You might soon only have to take a day off from life to renew your South African driving license every eight years, instead of the five years that we’re currently subjected to.
That’s if the technology and government processes have still not caught up to a better method of renewing driving licenses. The current system requires you to physically go to gloomy government offices in the hopes of actually securing what you went there for.
Transport minister Fikile Mbalula told eNCA this week that his department has proposed extending the driving license renewal process to Cabinet.
This was after civil society groups, including the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and the Automobile Association (AA) called for the renewal period to be extended from the current half-decade.
How the department arrived at eight years remains a mystery. It’s (maybe) safe to say they didn’t just pick a number. Based on data by Outa on international standards, driving licenses in most countries across the world remain valid for an average of eight and a half years with a range from three to twenty years. In Africa and the Americas, most driving licenses last for five and six years. In Asia, Australia, and Europe, licenses last for 8.6years, 10 years, and 11.5 years. Probably the Department of Transport tried to find a middle ground.
That not-broken printing machine
Along with the likely update in the renewal period, there’s another change afoot. That old driver’s license card printing machine (that totally didn’t break) is set to be put to rest in 2023. It’s about time. The machine, the only one in South Africa, has been in service since 1998.
Earlier this month, the license card printer broke down. Following media reports on the breakdown, the Road Traffic Management Corporation issued a statement contradicting those reports.
Mbalula said the machine was “operating at full steam”.
Mbalula says the country will soon have a new service linked to smart driving license cards. Hopefully, that’ll mean no physical attendance at the department every five years. Or eight years, depending on how soon the new renewal period is approved.
After the government’s approval in September this year, South Africa will finally have driving licenses that adhere to international standards. Once the smart license cards roll out, obviously.