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HomeNewsMassive backlog confirmed for driver’s licence renewals in South Africa

Massive backlog confirmed for driver’s licence renewals in South Africa

The Department of Transport (DoT) revealed that, once again, there is a backlog of 350,000 driver’s licence renewals in the country due to the third breakdown in under 18 months of the one-and-only licence card printer in South Africa.

This backlog comes despite fervent proclamations from the DoT that “production of driving licence cards will not be affected” by the card machine being offline.

Following two weeks of “routine maintenance” that ran from 5 to 19 April, the DoT said that it identified a broken part inside the machine which will necessitate another “two to three weeks” of downtime while the replacement component was flown in from Germany.

“The testing of the machine after the part replacement took another two weeks before it was certified to go back to full production,” said the DoT.

“This will see an increase in production from the 60,000 cards produced over the past 3 weeks during the testing period, to about 120,000 cards per week.”

The department confirmed that the five weeks of total downtime resulted in a backlog of 350,000 cards, but that it has a “catch-up plan to address the backlog, which will be cleared by end of August 2023.”

It also revealed that over the past two years, the machine produced around 2.85 million cards per year, and since its commissioning in 1998, it has printer over 60 million cards.

This particular printer is the only one of its kind still being used by any country in the world.

New licence card for South Africa

New licences incoming

The DoT additionally confirmed that it is currently working on the process of introducing a new driver’s licence to South Africa as approved by Cabinet in August 2022.

“The new driver’s licence card will be launched before the end of the current financial year. It will also bring with it new card production machines to replace the current machine,” said the department.

Ex-transport minister Fikile Mbalula said the new licence will be trialled from 1 November 2023 until 31 March 2024, after which there will be a five-year period of transition from the old card to the new.

The existing card as well as the equipment used to produce it will be decommissioned on 1 April 2024, and the licence itself will then remain valid until 31 March 2029.

He said that new cards will adhere to the standards of the “developed world” and that they will have more security features than the ones we are currently using.

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