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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Wait for driving licences may be prolonged after printing machine breaks – again

Outa has repeated calls that the validity period of driver's licence cards be extended.

With the festive season not far off, the driving licence grinch has made a comeback.

South Africa’s last functioning printing machine has broken down for a second time, which could result in motorists experiencing further delays in getting their licences.

ALSO READ: Getting a driver’s licence renewed will ‘be easier’ from March 2022, assures Mbalula

In September, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula said the Driving Licence Centre Account (DLCA) had produced at least two million driving licence cards to clear the massive backlog that formed when the machine broke down for the first time last year.

The chain reaction to that breakdown led to excruciating waiting times to spike to 58 days, but officials in the transport sector whittled down the queue to just 10 days, while over a million motorists were driving with expired licences.

Latest breakdown

The details of the latest breakdown were confirmed by the Eastern Cape’s acting chief director for transport regulations, Xolisa Jakula, to MyBroadBand.

Jakula said efforts to return it to service by the end of the week were underway.

“The machine is reported to have not been working for two weeks now, and there is an indication that processes are underway to ensure that by the end of this week, it is operational.”

Driver’s licences must be extended

Meanwhile, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) has once again repeated calls for driver’s licence cards to be extended.

In a tweet, the organisation said there needs to be a solution to the problem.

“Outa repeats our call that that the validity of driver’s licence cards be extended to 10 years so that the backlog and chaos can be sorted out once and for all, @MbalulaFikile. South Africa’s only driver’s licence card printing machine breaks again.”

Taking responsibility

Earlier this year, Outa said it believed Mbalula was trying to deflect the driver’s licence administration chaos onto the public, instead of taking ownership within the department.

Outa warned Mbalula not to “start a war with motorists”.

“Administrative difficulties and significant backlogs in the renewal process of driver’s licence cards have been the order of the day long before the arrival of the pandemic or the breakdown of the card printing machine at the end of 2021,” it said.

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