Mbalula to address the nation on South Africa’s response to drivers licence crisis

Mbalula to address the nation on South Africa’s response to drivers licence crisis

With just a day left for the renewal of drivers’ licences, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) has announced that the Department of Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula is expected to address the nation on Thursday.

The RMTC said Mbalula will share an update on developments regarding the drivers licence deadline and provide a way forward.

The Automobile Association (AA) has expressed concerns about the hundreds of thousands of drivers who have still not applied for their new cards.

The deadline for the renewal of expired drivers licence cards ends on 31 March.

In August last year, Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula announced that driving licences which expired between 26 March 2020 and 31 August 2021 will be valid until 31 March 2022.

In February Mbalula indicated that the total backlog of licences that will have expired by 31 March that have to be renewed stands at 2.1m nationally.

Earlier this month, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said it believed Mbalula is trying to deflect the driver’s licence administration chaos onto the public, instead of taking ownership within the department.

With motorists still struggling to have their expired driving licence cards renewed, the AA has again appealed to Mbalula to reconsider government’s refusal to extend this deadline, and to make provision for a longer renewal period.

“Given the recent problems with the production of driving licences cards, and issues around Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) and online booking systems, we believe it’s unrealistic to expect that this enormous backlog will be cleared by tomorrow; this leaves hundreds of thousands of drivers without the necessary documents to be on the road legally.”

“Unless traffic law enforcement understands these issues – and finds a suitable way of addressing them – we may find a massive spike in the number of traffic fines issued to motorists in the next couple of weeks and months,” said the AA.

The AA said motorists may also find themselves negatively impacted from an insurance perspective if they are involved in accidents.

“Insurers may repudiate claims if motorists are driving with expired licences. Although those who have applied for new licences are covered through an extension of the validity of their licences, there are still many drivers who have not applied for renewed licences for various reasons beyond their control.”

On Wednesday, Outa said it is considering launching an expired driving licence card civil disobedience campaign.

Outa is demanding that government extend the driving licence renewal deadline or instruct enforcement agencies not to issue fines to motorists whose driving licence cards expired in the past 12 months.

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