As thousands of motorists face not having the necessary legal driving documents, the Automobile Association (AA) is calling on Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to extend the validity of all licences beyond the current August 30 deadline.
AA CEO Willem Groenewald noted in his letter to the Minister’s office on Monday, June 29 that the current extension covers driving licences which expired before the end of May exclusively.
“Any licences which expire in June or July may have an immediate 21-day grace period, but there are problems which make it difficult for these drivers to renew licences within that time,” Mr Groenewald writes.
According to Groenewald the current National Traffic Information System (NaTIS) is creating a number of issues due to lack of availability of slots, with a number of centres still closed due to COVID-19 infections.
“Our experience is that the majority of drivers in South Africa prefer to remain compliant with the regulations, and to be on the road legally. Although the system is often problematic, drivers take the necessary steps to ensure they remain within the law. However, given the current constraints on the system, many are faced with the real possibility that they may not be able to do this,” Mr Groenewald says.
The AA is asking that the deadline be extended to as late as January 2021 as it is the more realistic expectation.
Groenewald says this extension will make room for centres that are closed over the festive period as well as closure due to the virus.
If the extension is not approved the AA has also suggested that the Minster alternatively allow third-party agents, such as the AA themselves, to perform licensing renewal services.
“Not only will this go a long way in dealing with the current and historical backlogs it will also alleviate the pressure on the DLTC infrastructure going forward,” concludes Mr Groenewald.