The driver’s licence backlog has increased to a massive 324,000 – but Transport Minister Blade Nzimande says the orders have been prioritised for printing within the next three weeks and has assured motorists they will not be penalised.
Nzimande said in a statement he was monitoring a contingency plan to recover production time lost during the department’s labour dispute with employees contracted to the Driving Licence Card Account, which produces and delivers driver’s licence cards. The department also vowed in October last year to wipe out the backlog by the end of that month – and in December again undertook to sort out the backlog, which then stood at 90 000, by the end of the year.
The striking workers returned to work in December, pending the finalisation of the dispute at the General Public Service Bargaining Council. The minister said they had received over a million card orders between July and December last year and printed 700 000 – but the current production backlog was at 324 000 cards and had been prioritised for printing within the next three weeks.
He said the department had issued a directive to provincial and municipal traffic authorities not to penalise motorists who complied with the prescripts of the application and renewal of their driver’s licences. Where drivers had already been fined by traffic officers as a result of the delays, they could apply for the revocation of the enforcement order through the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA).
Just filling in a form available for download on the RTIA website (www.aarto.gov.za) and e-mail it to firstname.lastname@example.org. According to Nzimande, vehicle drivers who had renewed their driver’s licences before three months of the expiry of their licences were exempted from fines and were expected to produce their valid receipts given upon renewal.
They did not have to apply for temporary driver’s licences. New applicants for driver’s licences were also exempted from fines, provided they had already applied for temporary licences as they were legally required to do on passing their driver’s test and did not have to reapply for expired temporary licences.
Drivers who had applied for their driver’s licences after their licences expired were also legally required to apply and pay for temporary driver’s licences, but did not have to reapply when these temporary licences expired because of departmental delays and were merely require to produce their expired temporary licences when required to do so.
“The general principle is that those whose temporary driver’s licences have expired need not reapply until they receive their licences. They must produce their valid or expired temporary licences on request by traffic officials,” Nzimande said. “I would like to earnestly apologise to the citizens for the inconvenience they have been subjected to through this ordeal,” he said.