Big problem with online driver’s license renewals in South Africa – why one province coped

Most South African provinces are still not offering motorists the ability to book and pay for driver’s license card renewals online, more than seven months after the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) introduced the option.

Since the RTMC introduced the online driver’s license renewal on eNatis February 2022only drivers in Gauteng and the Eastern Cape could use the feature.

The system was originally scheduled to go live in October 2021, but was delayed due to various regulatory and technical requirements.

The online renewal system allows motorists to make an appointment, pay online with a bank card, and have their license card delivered to their preferred address instead of picking it up at a driver’s license testing center (DLTC).

The only part of the process that still requires a visit to a DLTC is vision testing and biometric fingerprinting.

The Transportation Department has plans in the pipeline to allow accredited optometrists to transmit applicants’ vision tests to their system, eliminating this part of the process.

However, motorists in the other seven provinces – including the densely populated Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal – still have to complete most of the renewal at a DLTC.

MyBroadband asked RTMC why no more provinces have been added to the online renewal system in the past seven months.

RTMC spokesman Simon Zwane said the lack of support in other provinces was not the company’s fault.

“RTMC has made the service available to all provinces and will be able to roll it out once provincial authorities signal their readiness to offer the services,” Zwane said.

He explained that the decision to launch the online booking service is the prerogative of the MEC for transportation in each province.

“So far, the Gauteng and Eastern Cape provinces’ transportation authorities are the only ones who have made the decision to roll out the services in their province,” Zwane explained.

Western Cape answers

MyBroadband asked all MECs, spokespersons and heads of provincial transport departments why they haven’t implemented the system yet.

At the time of publication, only one province’s department – ​​that of the Western Cape – responded.

The department’s head of communications, Jandré Bakker, said while the RTMC’s statement was true, it did not provide full context.

“The statement gives the impression that two entire provinces have phased in the service, while to our knowledge the Eastern Cape has only rolled out it in two municipalities rather than the entire province,” Bakker said.

He explained that the Western Cape has not implemented the system due to “many challenges” in Gauteng, where many people complained online about the system’s problems.

“The department is not averse to implementing new practices, but is not willing to implement them in a way that impedes service and frustrates the public,” he said.

Bakker said the department is studying a recently received report on experiences with the system in Gauteng to decide whether to adopt it.

Jandré Bakker, Head of Communications, Western Cape Transport Department

He goes on to claim that the Western Cape’s walk-in approach to tackling the renewal backlog has been much faster than that of the other provinces.

The Covid-19 pandemic and the failure of the only card production machine between November and February 2022 caused heavy backlogs in the processing of driver’s license cards.

Bakker also said online bookings could not be treated in isolation as resources at the DLTCs would also need to be addressed in parallel.

The Western Cape would therefore not commit to an implementation date until such issues with the system are resolved.

Bakker added that the department previously piloted an electronic process for renewals at a single DLTC, resulting in applicants turning away from that DLTC and flooding others.

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