Corruption leads to backlogs in online licence booking system

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Preliminary investigations suggest corruption is the reason online booking slots have been unavailable at various Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) in Gauteng.

This was the word from transport minister Fikile Mbalula, speaking on Friday during his meeting with authorities involved in DLTC operations across all three spheres of government in Gauteng.

“The difficulties experienced by citizens in booking slots through the online platform is a serious cause for concern,” said Mbalula. “We are gravely concerned that preliminary investigations suggest that corruption is the principal driver of lack of availability of booking slots in various DLTCs across Gauteng.”

This isn’t the first time corruption allegations concerning the online licence booking system have been raised. In March, the National Driving School Association of SA said the system should be scrapped, saying it is inefficient and crippled by corruption. The group claimed to be battling to make online appointments for licences and renewals.

Introduced on 1 November 2018, the system was to enable online bookings for learner's and driver's licence tests, renewal of driving licence cards and public driving permits in Gauteng.

The objectives of the new system were to modernise services offered at the driving licence testing centres, and remove barriers to access and reduce opportunities for corrupt practices, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) explained at the time.

However, the online system has been characterised by numerous challenges, resulting in backlogs and motorists unable to book slots to renew their licences.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare and amplified the challenges, most of which are a consequence of corruption in the system, noted Mbalula.

According to the minister, the RTMC, working closely with provincial and local authorities, is looking into the matter, stating the interventions must deliver a system that improves efficiency, eliminates corruption and more importantly, modernise processes to eliminate the need for end-users to queue at DLTCs.

“We are paying particular attention to the rollout of online services in a manner that improves efficiencies and minimises the time the end-user spends in a queue. The ultimate end-goal is to eliminate these queues, once the full bouquet of online services has been successfully rolled out by the RTMC.”

The transport minister revealed that out of the 7.1 million vehicles due for renewal between March 2020 and January 2021, 6.3 million have been renewed. Out of the 900 000 discs that have yet to be renewed, 250 000 of these are in Gauteng.

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