UPDATE: In response to media reports yesterday claiming South Africa’s only driving license card printer had suffered another breakdown, the Road Traffic Management Corporation has issued a statement contradicting those reports. Transport minister Fikile Mbalula stated the machine is “operating at full steam.” This comes after Xolisa Jakula, Eastern Cape’s acting chief director for transport regulations stated the opposite while speaking to MyBroadband.
According to Mbalula, the machine is still managing to print 300,000 licenses per month, with no backlog in sight. “As will be expected, glitches might be experienced at some point, but the team is keeping a close eye on the smooth operation of the machine.” The Department of Transport has confirmed the machine has been battling power outages (surprise surprise), with “routine maintenance and the replacement of components.”
The Driving License Card Agency (DLCA) says it is working closely with the machine’s original manufacturer for quick repairs and components on hand should a breakdown or ‘glitch’ occur.
Original Story: If you were planning on renewing your driver’s license any time soon then you’re out of luck. South Africa’s only driver’s license printing machine has broken down for the second time this year. Plans are underway to get the machine repaired before the end of the week. That’s according to Xolisa Jakula, Eastern Cape’s acting chief director for transport regulations.
Prepare for a backlog
“The machine is reported to have not been working for two weeks now, and there is an indication that processes are underway to ensure that by the end of this week, it is operational,” said Jakula, speaking to MyBroadband.
An update on the machine’s repair is expected to release later today, 19 October.
It is awfully optimistic of Jakula to think a complete repair by the end of the week is possible. The last time the machine broke down (November 2021), repairs took up to 3 months to complete. At the time, Fikile Mbalula said that the machine had been sent to Germany for repairs. Months later, he confirmed that the machine had never left South Africa and instead received in-house repairs.
At the time this probably meant a quicker turnaround for the repairs but we wonder if those in-house repairs have led to the second breakdown.
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It raises the question of whether the Department of Transport (DoT) should buy a second machine. The current machine is the oldest of its kind still operating around the world. Layton Beard, the spokesperson for the Automobile Association of South Africa, said that purchasing a second machine would cause more corruption.
“You don’t want to have a situation where the printing of licence cards is farmed out to the DLTCs,” said Beard. “You may find yourself in a worse position in terms of illegal driving license cards that are in circulation.”
A plan for a second printing machine is in the works, Mbalula confirmed in January of this year. Since then, Mbalula has said that he is still awaiting cabinet approval before the purchase can be made.