Mpumalanga goes eNatis

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 22 Oct 2007

Mpumalanga is set to become the first province to use the formerly-problematic electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis) to address corruption in the drivers` licence testing environment.

The new functionality was recently successfully piloted in Witbank. The Department of Transport expects to roll out the new eNatis application nationwide as soon as it passes the hurdles in SA`s eastern province.

"Once it is widely adopted, the system will benefit members of the public and traffic authorities in all of SA`s provinces," says the department`s eNatis project manager Werner Koekemoer.

This will be good news for Gauteng, where the Shared Services Centre runs a proprietary system that, as has been reported, has been the cause of much public frustration.

Learners` and drivers` licence test appointments are not yet standardised nationally and are, for the most part, handled manually at individual testing stations.

Koekemoer observes that manual scheduling is not "wholly effective", is prone to human errors, such as double booking, and "moreover presents ample opportunity for fraud and corruption". The new licence appointment booking functionality, he says, enhances efficiency and provides uniform booking procedures.

"During the course of July last year, the booking system underwent comprehensive initial testing by user groups from all the provinces and representatives from the department`s inspectorate of driving licences.

"Indications are that the booking system will be fully effective and able to meet all requirements, including unique province-specific ones.

"The booking system component of eNatis was successfully tested at the Witbank driving licence testing centre in Mpumalanga, in the first week of October. No significant problems were experienced during the pilot project, and the system will in future be used for all licence appointment bookings at the centre," he adds.

Koekemoer says the eNatis booking system provides numerous advantages:

* It is integrated with related transactions on eNatis, streamlining the licence process.
* Since it will be available countrywide, it will be possible to implement uniform processes nationally.
* It ensures the available capacity in terms of driving licence testing centres and examiners is utilised optimally.
* A transparent process is followed in allocating bookings.
* Corrupt practices will be eliminated in the following ways:
* The availability of appointments is determined and managed by eNatis. As a result, officials at driving licence testing centres (DLTCs) will not be able to give preference to specific applicants by reserving appointment dates or times for them. The system determines the earliest available appointment date and time for an applicant. In the past, unscrupulous officials abused their position by accepting bribes to provide bookings to applicants. Koekemoer says this will no longer be possible.
* The booking system calculates the number of available test appointments at any given DLTC, based on the capacity of the centre. This capacity will be determined and set up by the inspectorate of driving licences, and examiners will be unable to perform more tests than the number allowed.
* Information about examiners who will be conducting specific tests will not be available to applicants (and vice versa). This information will only be made available on the day of the test. This will eliminate the abusive practice where certain applicants are tested by specific examiners who have been bribed to pass them.
* Anonymous applicants will not be able to make block bookings. This will prevent unscrupulous driving schools from bribing officials and "hogging" test slots, even though they may not have applicants to fill those slots.
* The scheduled test times and dates are visible to the inspectorate of driving licences and the traffic department`s investigations and forensics sub-directorate. This will provide additional audit information on examiners and controls on applicants they have tested.
* It will not be possible to capture test results, or the issuing of a licence on the system if a test appointment was not made. In the past, applicants were marked as having passed although an application for a test was never made.
* DLTC managers or supervisors will control examiners` diaries. The additional management involvement will compel examiners and management to work together, improving accountability and also providing a structured work environment.
* Since the booking system does not allow the replacement of one applicant with another for a specific test, corrupt officials will no longer be able to do so in return for bribes.
*All booking transactions performed will be audited and available for management reports.

"It is common knowledge that fragmented working procedures increase the likelihood of corrupt practices," says Koekemoer.

"The new functionality provides uniform, standardised booking procedures to traffic authorities nationwide, [and] enhances efficiency and will no doubt put paid to many corrupt practices at testing centres."

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