Technical hiccups hit eNatis

Candice Jones
By Candice Jones, ITWeb online telecoms editor
Johannesburg, 17 Apr 2007

The technological solution to SA's licensing chaos kicked off this morning despite several technical problems.

The Department of Transport launched its R311 million nationwide licensing system this morning, following a weeklong upgrade project at testing stations around the country.

The system was initially intended to go live on Friday, but "data line faults and technical issues" delayed the project until today. However, there were conflicting reports this morning about the system's robustness.

The project was initiated following Gauteng premier Mbhazima Shilowa's pledge to end the chaos at Gauteng's licence testing stations by 31 March. This deadline was not met. However, the 14-year-old National Transport Information System (Natis) has now been replaced by the eNatis system.

At the time, Shilowa said: "Over the past year, the driving licence booking system has not been able to respond adequately to the needs of consumers."

eNatis will be used at more than 1 753 sites throughout the country to register, deregister and check the ownership of vehicles. It will perform about 40 000 transactions per hour and is expected to have a turnover of R3 billion per annum.

It will also allow management of driver and learner licence bookings online and in real-time, and validate examiners, testing centres and appointments.

Johan Vorster, CEO of Tasima, the consortium that developed the system, says: "It is fully operational today." He adds the data centre logged more than 50 000 transactions countrywide since it went online on Friday.

Johannesburg metro police spokesman chief superintendent Wayne Minnaar says eNatis was unavailable in Johannesburg this morning.

However, Vorster says a significant number of transactions were processed in the data centre this morning and no problems from the city were logged at the call centre.

Vorster says there were isolated incidents today when some centres experienced data line connection failure, but those problems did not occur in the Johannesburg area and most centres are now running efficiently.

Problems expected

Lindokuhle Mdlopane, financial director of Ciber Information International SA, also part of the consortium that won the contract, says there were bound to be problems because of the size of the project.

"It is a huge system and, even when we were testing it, it was almost impossible to get everyone nationally to test together. We expected hiccups when the system went live."

He adds the new system is far better than the old one; and it is an open source system, which is in line with government's goals.

Related story:
Govt upgrades Natis