Gauteng addresses licence backlog

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 20 Nov 2007

The Gauteng Department of Public Transport, Roads and Works has reduced the province`s learner licence backlog to 3 000 in a month, by opening three more testing stations.

"It now takes about a week to secure a booking and sit for a learner licence test," says transport spokesman Alfred Nhlapo.

In August, ITWeb reported the backlog for learner and driver licences could have been as high as 147 000, after the department`s bookings agency, the Gauteng Shared Service Centre (GSSC), suffered a two-week computer system failure.

Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa, in February, promised to end the chaos at Gauteng`s licence testing stations. Part of that process involved giving the GSSC`s contact centre responsibility for test appointments and investing in IT to automate and fraud-proof the licence and drivers` tests.

"The pressure point was not with driver licences, it was with learner licences," says Nhlapo. "There are also many repeat applicants, many of whom do not properly prepare, who contribute to the backlog."

He says the new testing centres are in Soweto, Esselen Park (Kempton Park) and Unisa, in Ormonde. The latter site may soon be moved, he adds.

Nhlapo says testing centres in the province handled 8 000 tests in the month between late September - when the satellite centres were opened - and late October.

Public transport, roads and works MEC Ignatius Jacobs, in a statement, added that he was pleased a corner had been turned "on this important matter of service delivery".

"All necessary steps and efforts would be taken to ensure more access to public services. We are also continuing with our work to build more driver licence testing centres in some of the 20 prioritised townships in the province," he noted.

One driver licence testing centre will be built in Soweto in the current financial year, and another one in Mamelodi, Pretoria.

Nhlapo says the test format at the satellite centres is still paper-based, adding that only the Langlaagte testing station uses a crook-proof IT-based test. Jacobs opened the R5 million Langlaagte facility in April, promising to roll out more across the province as finances allowed.

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