Nine Cape Town driver testing centres closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic
Nine of the City’s 18 testing centres - Bellville, Brackenfell, Fish Hoek, Gallows Hill, Gordon’s Bay, Hillstar, Kuils River, Somerset West and Lingelethu West - have closed after positive cases of the virus.
Kim van der Walt, 21, from Mandalay had a driver’s test scheduled for April 14 at Gallows Hill that had to be postponed due to lockdown.
At the beginning of May she was contacted to reschedule for May 27 but that was also postponed. She received another call to make an appointment for either June 11 or 12 but her learner’s licence expired on June 6.
Van der Walt was told that there has been a backlog of learner’s licence holders whose permits expired in June and who were unable to complete a driver’s.
“At that time I just told my instructor that it’s not the end of the world. However, when we drove off I was devastated. I just couldn’t believe that all this time I was waiting for this day and then ‘boom’ - it just blew up in my face,” she said.
Trimaine Hendricks, 22, from Bishop Lavis had her driver’s test postponed due to the closure of the centre.
She received an SMS on June 10, saying: “Good day, kindly note you will be contacted with regards to your driver’s appointment at Goodwood Traffic Centre. All vehicles must be sanitised by your instructor.” She has received no further update.
“I figured it was due to all the new rules and knowing this pandemic made everything so different. I need my driver’s licence because it will make things easier for me to travel to college and meet up with friends,” she said.
Traffic Services spokesperson Maxine Bezuidenhout said centres would reopen once premises have been sanitised and sufficient staff members are available.
“The respective driver’s licence testing centre will call and schedule a new date for those who had a driving or learner’s licence test.
“Dates for appointments have always been done based on availability at the centre, even before Covid-19. If, for whatever reason an applicant cannot make the date given to them, they have to wait until the next available date,” she said.
Those who fail their respective tests will have to wait until the bookings for driving licences resume, Bezuidenhout added.
However, driving instructors said that there had been a lack of communication from the traffic department on this matter.
A former traffic officer and examiner, now a driving school owner who wished to remain anonymous, said his role in the economy was being undermined and his livelihood affected.
“I am not representing the driving schools. I have not been mandated to speak on their behalf but we share the same sentiments.
“Covid-19 has caught us all off guard, but it’s how we respond to it and all the inconvenience it has created. All we are asking for is a better line of understanding and communication. We arrive at the testing station to find the place under lockdown with no explanation of what is happening or what to do in such cases,” he said.