DOT earmarks phased-approach for smart enrolment system

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 20 Dec 2023
The Department of Transport targets an additional 55 driving licence testing centres for smart enrolment solution.
The Department of Transport targets an additional 55 driving licence testing centres for smart enrolment solution.

The Department of Transport (DOT) plans to deploy its smart enrolment solution in 55 driving licence testing centres (DLTCs), before national roll out of the system.

This emerged in a written Parliamentary reply from transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga, responding to COPE MP Teboho Loate’s question about the system’s deployment to other provinces.

The DOT’s smart enrolment project aims to provide the capability to collect enrolment data from multiple sources with the ultimate objective of obtaining self-service; thus eliminating human intervention and reducing the risks of fraud and corruption.

In the 2022/23 financial year, the transport department introduced the smart enrolment solution to improve the service to motorists and reduce turnaround times at DLTCs.

The system was first piloted at the Waterfall and Eco-Park Centurion DLTCs, serving as a partial proof of concept trial for driving licence card renewals.

According to Chikunga, the smart enrolment solution has only been piloted at the above-mentioned DLTCs, but a process is well underway to deploy to 55 DLTCs and to expand even further.

Over the course of the pilot, a total of 108 741 renewals were “successfully” carried out through the smart enrolment solution at the Waterfall and Eco-Park Centurion centres, she reveals.

“Very minimal glitches were experienced in the process and lessons from those glitches were utilised to reinforce the solutions’ resilience and proficiency, ahead of the full-scale roll out, which is now due to commence before the end of the third quarter of the current financial year.

“As of 31 October 2023, the Driving Licence Card Account (DLCA) entity has already commenced with readiness to deploy an additional 300 smart enrolment units (SEUs) at 55 centres around the country. These 55 are the first centres earmarked for the first phase of the full expansion of smart enrolment before the end of December 2023.

“A further 900 new SEUs will be deployed in the last quarter of the financial year to bring the total deployment of new SEUs to 1 200 across 427 DLTCs nationally. This will translate to an average of 47 DLTCs per province.”

Reduced turnaround time

Over the years, the transport department and its entities has often faced criticism for the time an applicant spends at a DLTC to apply for or renew a driving licence, for example.

There have also been issues around the duration to successfully print, quality assure, and package the driving licence card for dispatch back to the DLTC.

Additionally, a driving licence card backlog, which has since been cleared, emerged amid the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.

Responding to what interventions her department has implemented to cut down turnaround times, Chikunga says the DLCA and Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) have a multiplicity of interventions that are already being introduced.

“Within this integrated business process, the introduction of smart enrolment solution has already assisted with a significant reduction of turnaround time from an estimated 30 minutes, which an individual applicant currently takes, to a maximum of 20 minutes which an individual applicant will take under the smart enrolment solution.

“Also, the fact that the smart enrolment solution operates on a real-time basis, means when an individual applicant enrols his/her application data at a centre, the information is immediately transmitted to the National Traffic Information System (NaTIS) in real-time and there is no longer delayed transmission which at times could result in hours or an entire day before the information is received from the DLTC to the DLCA, via the NaTIS system.

“Reduction of turnaround times in terms of the other two business process elements will only be fully realised once the new driving license card printing machine has been procured and commissioned. This will see DLCA now able to produce a single driving license card within five working days as opposed to an average of 14 working days as is currently the case.”