Johannesburg - Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has expressed concern at preliminary investigations suggesting that corruption is the reason for the unavailability of booking slots at various Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) in Gauteng.
The minister had a meeting with the authorities, involved in DLTC operations across all three spheres of government in Gauteng on Friday, following a growing trend of complaints received in respect of operations in the provinces centres.
Mbalula said that the department has been paying attention to the challenges confronting DLTCs across the country, and the impact to the livelihoods of those “who require these services to put bread on the table.”
“The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic laid bare these challenges, most of which are a consequence of corruption in the system,” the minister said.
This comes after members of the National Driving School Association of SA (NDSASA) protested in February, calling for the online booking system to be scrapped in Gauteng.
Mbalula said that the department had taken heed to the plethora of complaints by members of the public, and the department had taken decisive action to address the issues raised.
“We are gravely concerned that preliminary investigations suggest that corruption is the principal driver of lack of availability of booking slots in various DLTCs across Gauteng. Learner and driver licensing remain a pervasive challenge, particularly in Gauteng,” the minister said.
He said that the department was paying particular attention to the roll-out of online services, in a manner that improves efficiencies and minimises the time that the end-user spends in a queue.
“The ultimate end goal is to eliminate these queues, once the full bouquet of online services has been successfully rolled out by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC),” Mbalula said.
The minister called on the RTMC and DLTCs to give infrastructural urgent priority.
Mbablua said the RTMC, working with licensing authorities, will intervene in the slot allocation challenge by rolling out the online booking platform – created as part of a broader strategy to improve service delivery at DLTCs.
“This platform gives the public access to view available slots, without physically travelling to a DLTC, thereby saving application time and money. Corruption related to slot allocations must be investigated and addressed decisively,” he said.
Mbalula added that the department will introduce self-service kiosks at centres, and mobile kiosks in public spaces, managed by RTMC.
The minister further announced that the validity of learner’s licences, driver’s licence cards, temporary driving licences, and professional driving permits – that expired from March 26, 2020, up to December 31, 2020 – have also been extended for a further period that will end on August 31, 2021.
“Out of the 2 465 439 vehicle licence discs that expired between March 26, 2020, and August 31, 2020, 90.3% of these have since been renewed. This leaves a total of 239 087 vehicles without valid licence discs on our roads,” Mbalula said.
He added that the Gauteng percentage of vehicle licence disc renewals stands at 89.6%, which is below the national average. Gauteng was also below the national average with regard to the 4 856 636 vehicle licence discs that expired between September 30, 2020, and January 31, 2021. Gauteng accounts for 85.4% of South African vehicle licence disc renewals.