The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) is urging the government to extend the driver’s license (DL) renewal process from five years to 10 years. This, they argue, will save both time and money for citizens and government.

In a letter to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, OUTA explains: “We believe that both the state and its citizens would benefit from a formal extension of the DL period of applicability from the current five year period to one of ten years,” said Dominique Msibi, Portfolio Manager at OUTA’s Public Governance Division.

“This should save the SA consumer and government time and money as well as improve the administration and manageability of the renewal process by the state.”

OUTA proposed the following to the Minister:

– That an extension for driver’s license renewal be applied from 5 to 10 years

– The extension from 5 to 10 years applies between the ages of 18 to 65 years.

– That more efficient online application processes for DL renewals precedes the actual renewal, to allow for more effective service delivery and flow between appointment, eye test and licence delivery.

– Multiple methods for DL renewal are made available through test centres and reputable service providers, i.e. stronger collaboration with neutral, third party organisations such as the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA).

– That current restrictions applicable to Professional Driver’s Permits either remain the same, or are possibly extended as well, but that this decision be based on more extensive research and the inclusion of input from bussing and tourism role players.

“The state is facing a growing crisis of legitimacy in its inability to address the backlog of DL renewals, which appears to be getting worse, not better. This in turn is spilling out into a crisis of administrative challenges that has the potential for citizens to be deemed as not acting ‘outside the law’, when driving without a license, due to the state’s inefficiencies,” Msibi added.

“The extension of the grace period for ‘expired’ DL is becoming the norm. We believe there will be no adverse impact on the lives of South Africans in the case of extending DL renewal to 10-years.”

In its research, OUTA compared the South African process of DL renewals with best practice internationally. The study looked at the following:

–  Maximum period required before renewal of the driver’s license

– Methods available to renew the driver’s license

– Old age restrictions, demerit system and other regulations applicable

– Concessions made and to be improved for pregnant and disabled drivers

– Costs to renew driver’s license

“While the current backlog highlights the need for improved efficiencies in the administration of  DL renewals, we sincerely believe it is time for South Africa to introduce formal extensions to the period of applicability to 10 years (as opposed to the current period of 5-years), as is done in many countries around the world. This in turn will alleviate the current pressures on the state to keep pace with the growing administrative demand, as well as enable the DL renewal administrative processes to be improved,” Msibi concludes.

The AA is also calling on government to urgently redress the current renewal system. They argue a moratorium on fining motorists without renewed driving licences must be implemented as a matter of urgency, and that immediate steps be taken to fix the current renewal processes.

“The current system was broken even before the lockdown began. Now, with thousands of anxious motorists struggling to renew their driving licence cards for a variety of reasons, the failures of the system are being exposed even more. And, what is most concerning, is that there appears to be no acknowledgement of this by the authorities, nor of any attempts to assist the public. We must be honest and admit that the current processes are, quite simply, shambolic,” says the AA.

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