ICT firms jostle for new smart driving licence tender

Admire Moyo
By Admire Moyo, ITWeb's news editor.
Johannesburg, 11 Jun 2024
Government has had challenges with multiple breakdowns of its single printing machine for driving licences. (Photograph by Admire Moyo)
Government has had challenges with multiple breakdowns of its single printing machine for driving licences. (Photograph by Admire Moyo)

ICT firms are looking to clinch a tender to provide South Africa’s new driver’s licence card and printing equipment.

This, as the Department of Transport yesterday announced it is “on track” to deliver the new equipment after admitting to facing initial challenges in finding a suitable service provider.

The department received five bids from the following bidders: Ren-form Corporate Print Media, NEC XON, Muehlbauer ID Services, Gemalto Altron Fintech Southern Africa, and Idemia Identity and Security South Africa.

Over the years, government has had challenges with multiple breakdowns of its single printing machine for driving licences, leading to a huge backlog in the issuing of the documents. The machine was introduced in 1998.

Last year, the machine broke down due to a technical problem that required a part to be replaced by the original manufacturer overseas, leaving drivers in limbo.

In a move to fight counterfeiting, the South African government is looking to introduce a new smart driving licence with security features such as biometric data, holograms and watermarks.

With the new printer, the Driving Licence Card Account – a trading entity operating under the Department of Transport – should be able to produce a card within five working days, nine days faster than the current printer.

According to the department, the new card will be valid for eight years, instead of the current five. However, it notes that current cards will continue to be recognised as valid until 31 March 2029.

Transport minister Sindisiwe Chikunga recently said the new offerings will introduce a system with driving licence cards linked to smart card technology.

The tender documents show the new card will also make the South African driving licence compatible with the International Information Technology Personal Identification Compliant Driving Licence (ISO18013).

The front of the card will display the driver’s name, gender, date of birth, ID number and information about the licence, such as issuance date, code, licence number and validity period.

A photo of the licence-holder will be shown on the front of the card, along with their signature.

The card body will be made from 100% polycarbonate material, with specifically designed security elements.

“With the evaluation and adjudication of the bids completed, the department is almost on the brink of pronouncing a new dawn in the driving licence card environment, with the audit process being the only last hurdle standing in the way,” the department said yesterday.

Cabinet gave the go-ahead for the department to produce a new driving licence card for the country on 30 August 2022, says the transport department.

As a result, the department embarked on its first attempt to source a service provider to deliver a turnkey solution.

“The above bid was advertised on 10 November 2022. This bid process was unsuccessful, resulting in a re-advertisement of the bid on 5 April 2023. Bid DLCA/2023/01: Provision of a Turnkey Solution for Personalisation of Smart Driving Cards in South Africa was advertised in the government tender portal,” the department said.

It notes that the bid closed on 5 May 2023, and owing to its technical complexity, this bid continues to be under consideration, which requires the department to adhere to prescribed supply chain management prescripts and regulations.

With the evaluation and adjudication of the bid completed, the department has emphasised the bid is undergoing standard and required probity/audit processes.

The department points out that it cannot finalise the bid process until the above are completed.

“The department pleads for patience as it is prohibited by law to poke its nose into the affairs of the bidding committees. In compliance with the rules and regulations on tender processes, the department can therefore not be characterised as lacking transparency. The department will pronounce on this matter when all processes have been completed,” it said.