The only machine capable of printing driver’s licences in South Africa experienced some kind of critical failure in mid-November. Honestly, we think most of the population did the same after two years of fighting the pandemic. The problem is that this machine is still out of service, with a backlog of over 383,000 driver’s licences.
The South African public called for answers shortly after.
Why is there only one licence printing machine in the whole of SA?
In a recent interview with Newzroom Africa, Layton Beard, a spokesperson for the Automotive Association of South Africa detailed the reasoning for the lonely printing machine. He holds that this is a method used to limit corruption. Its solitary nature prevents fraud in the Department of Transport (DOT) and Driver’s Licence Testing Stations (DLTCs) from flooding the market with fraudulent license cards.
“I think you don’t want to have a situation where the printing of licence cards is farmed out to the DLTCs. You may find yourself in a worse position in terms of illegal driving licence cards that are in circulation,” Beard explains.
He adds that this doesn’t mean South Africa shouldn’t have at least two machines (i.e. a backup machine).
The machine was expected to be repaired by end of December, but that’s not the case. It’s still out of service, with no indication when it’ll be up and printing again. It is 20 years old, after all. It’s probably feeling a little overworked.
But there might be a little hope. Yesterday, the civil society group, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) called to extend the driver’s licence renewal period from five to ten years. That would give us even longer to forget just how terrible the process itself actually is. Provided government takes the suggestion on board, that is.