eNatis beefed up

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 24 Apr 2007

Tasima installed a third database server to speed up the transport department's electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis), says CEO Johan Vorster.

The system was described as "up and running" yesterday, but was reportedly slow, with it taking about 20 minutes to process a transaction such as a car registration or licence renewal.

The SA Press Association reported the gates at the country's largest testing station, Langlaagte, in Johannesburg, had to be opened and closed several times to prevent overcrowding and allow officials to serve those already on the premises.

Vorster says the system "is up and running normally" today and "feedback from the field is the system is now better and faster".

At 10.28am, 1 800 users were on the system and 125 000 transactions had been processed. Vorster says 400 000 transactions were completed yesterday.

Vorster, who is eNatis' project manager, says the system has a theoretical user limit of 3 000 users at any given time, though this has not been tested yet. Yesterday, just over 2 000 users were online.

"Yesterday, there was a bottleneck with the databases. With Natis switched off for a week [earlier this month], we are currently experiencing extraordinary circumstances because of backlogs that built up," he adds.

Retail Motor Industry Organisation CE Jeff Osborne says the system's underperformance is a "major concern for industry". Feedback from members is that eNatis today is "a little bit quicker [than yesterday], but still unacceptably slow".

Osborne also expressed doubts over staff training on eNatis, saying poorly trained staff was likely equally to blame along with technical glitches for the problems being experienced.

He says the department has publicly undertaken to get eNatis working at an acceptable level. "But what is an 'acceptable level'? Ours and theirs are probably two different things."

Osborne estimates the backlog eNatis has to clear on new and used car sales alone as 150 000.

He says it is difficult to quantify the cost of the delays as it depended on how one calculated it, "but certainly it has cost the country hundreds of thousands of rand, if not millions, as a whole", mostly in holding and storage costs.

"The key thing is we have been pressurising the department for three years to get licensing to an acceptable level. Now we wait with anticipation to see if it can deliver."

ITWeb readers were also not impressed, with one asking if the technicians quoted as fixing the system were the same "technicians that have spent the last five years and R386 million developing a system that now runs, if critics can be believed, an order of magnitude slower than the old system, and crashes several times a day".

Related stories:
Govt, developer defend eNatis
Technical hiccups hit eNatis
Govt upgrades Natis