Molefe Seeletsa

By Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist


RTMC looking at extending driver’s licence renewal period, says Mbalula

Transport minister also says a smart driver’s licence card will be rolled out from October next year.


The extension the validity period of driver’s licence card is currently under consideration, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula has confirmed.

Addressing the media on Thursday, Mbalula said the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) is looking into extending the validity period from five to 10 years in order to “improve the driver’s licence value chain”.

“The RTMC has appointed a panel of researchers to look into the matter,” the minister said.

The Organisation for Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) previously called on Mbalula in September 2020 to extend the period of validity for renewed driver’s licences.

At the time, Outa said in a statement that changing the renewal process would “save consumers and government time and money”.

ALSO READ: Online driver’s licence renewal system to be launched in February, says Mbalula

The organisation proposed to the Minister that an extension for driver’s license renewal be applied from five to 10 years, and this extension would apply for those between the ages of 18 to 65 years.

Mbalula noted Outa’s concern, saying the RMTC will evaluate whether the current validity period is “beneficial or counter-productive”.

“You know Outa and many others have raised their issue to say that ‘why are you not extending the renewal to 10 years’ so through the RTMC, we have commissioned a study and research [into the extending the validity period].

“And on the basis of that research, which we will compare with other countries, we will then make a determination on the status quo of five years, as it stands, [and whether it] is beneficial or counter-productive.

“Should we arrive at a conclusion informed by the research, we will immediately spring into action. So that work has already begun,” Mbalula said.

Smart card

During the briefing, Mbalula also revealed that a smart driver’s licence card will be rolled out from October next year.

“We are in the process of seeking Cabinet approval for the design of the new card this year. This will then be followed by a procurement process that will enable us to pilot and introduce the card in October 2023,” he said.

The minister indicated the current licence card will be phased out over a five-year period.

“This will allow the current cards to expire,” Mbalula added.

READ MORE: How to renew vehicle licence discs via Pick n Pay’s online system

The new card will have advanced security features and meet international standards, which means it can also be used as an alternative form of identification.

Mbalula indicated last year that the new card would be sent to Cabinet for approval early in 2022.

Mbalula also confirmed an online system for learner’s licence testing and driver’s licence renewal for motorists will be introduced on 17 February.

The system will include online eye-testing, and the eye test result will be automatically uploaded and linked to the user application.

Backlog

On the grace period to renew driver’s licences, Mbalula said the March 2022 deadline would not be extended.

“Those whose cards expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 are deemed to be valid until 22 March 2022.

“However, those whose licences expired after August 31 are required to apply for a temporary driver’s licence as the grace period does not cover them,” the minister said.

This follows the return of the driver’s licence card production machine from Germany.

Questions had been raised on whether there would be another extension after the machine broke down in November last year because of the damage caused to it as a result of flooding.

READ MORE: Driving licence renewal fees a confusing ‘money-making racket

The machine has since been repaired and returned to the country.

Mbalula indicated that the 2.1 million backlog in issuing driver’s licences – further exacerbated by the machine breakdown – will be cleared by September 2022.

The Driving Licence Card Authority (DLCA) is producing about 400,000 cards per month with the facility operational 24 hours a day, according to the Minister.

“The card production is in full swing and work is under way to clear the backlog. In the two weeks since the production process resumed, the DLCA has produced 128,436 driving licence cards,” Mbalula said.

Additional reporting by Lethabo Malatsi

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