Why the NaTIS licence renewal system is failing South Africans

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Day after day, we report on how technology is advancing the human race in a variety of ways, from faster, more intuitive consumer products to industry implants and even agricultural advancements. These all have one thing in common: advanced software and hardware. 

When the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) launched its new online licence booking system in the form of NaTIS (National Traffic Information System) in 2018, we expected a small revolution of sorts. Gone were the days of neverending queues at the traffic department to renew or apply for drivers’ licences. For Gauteng residents at least.

But things didn’t go according to plan. Since implementing the new system, residents can’t do walk-in bookings. At all. That means a whole segment of the population who either don’t have access to internet or doesn’t have the technical know-how won’t be able to book a licence renewal. Where’s this Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) our President spoke about?

If we give them the benefit of the doubt and consider that employees at traffic departments will help customers navigate the system, we’re completely off our rockers. Employees rarely know how the system works themselves and prefer to waive customers away, citing that in-person bookings are just not possible. 

“System offline”

Even more, residents of Gauteng only have a finite amount of time every week to head online and make a booking. One day per week is reserved solely for certain bookings, and that recently changed in October. You would think the traffic department — a business that services all residents in the country, would go out of its way to communicate changes like this. Now, you can only book a drivers’ licence renewal on a Monday in Gauteng through the online NaTIS system. 

It gets even worse. The exceptionally ‘low-tech’ system doesn’t work when accessed from a mobile phone browser. If done this way, the system doesn’t pick up any available booking slots and the user won’t be able to make a booking. You’d have to access the system from a desktop/laptop browser (we’ve found that Chrome and Edge works) to manage to make a booking. 

How, in a country where most internet users are on mobile, while some may not even have access to affordable data, is a system so corrupt at first glance? It’s become almost inaccessible for many people, mostly our older generations and lower market segments. This is exacerbated by corruption within departments (where the only way to get things done rest on a bribe being paid), a poorly-built online system and uneducated staff. 

There has to be a way to fix this. Consider allowing walk-ins, actually train staff and weed out corruption. Have we just become complicit because nothing ever works? The system can’t be offline forever. 

 

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About Author

Deputy Editor at Stuff. Nevermind the fancy title, I like writing about things that are cool. Like games, gadgets and sometimes even software. Depending on how cool it is.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Marce, very true. I have a license since 1990, and now, all of a sudden, I don’t appear on their system and I don’t know who to contact, since nobody can help me. To add to this, they now want me to redo my license, and that’s not going to happen…

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