South Africa is set to get new driver’s licences in the next year, Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announced as part of the Driving Licence Card Account’s (DLCA) annual performance plan.
The DLCA, which falls under the Department of Transport as a trading entity, is the sole producer of driver’s licences in South Africa.
The DLCA is currently in the final phase of designing a new South African driver’s licence card.
Mbalula said in the DLCA’s annual performance plan for 2021/2022 the new card is expected to be introduced midway through the financial year.
This means the new driver’s licences may be here later this year or early next year.
The transport minister said the DLCA plans to reduce the turnaround time of the production of driver’s licence cards through ‘atomising’ its productions processes.
The new licence cards will be closer aligned to international practices and incorporate new technologies. The actual design of the licence card will also be changed.
“The introduction of the new driving licence involves a new design of the driving licence card, and the re-engineering of processes to allow for agility and focus on delivering services efficiently and quickly,” the DLCA said.
“The project will allow for the adoption of digital technologies such as blockchain and other related technologies which will form the platform of an integrated transport system.”
The DLCA’s annual performance plan states that one of the group’s key priorities was to modernise the ‘driving licence production environment’.
This will include the purchasing of a new production machine that is capable of printing more modern licences, as well as the introduction of a new secure, high quality, and durable licence card.
While the card will still have to be approved by parliament, it is envisaged that the new design and the procurement of the machine will run concurrently, the DLCA said.
This news follows shortly after Mbalula met with the Gauteng MEC for transport and Gauteng licensing authorities about the challenges related to Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs).
“Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) provide an important service to our motorists, as they are an important support system to enable mobility,” the transport minister said.
There are, however, pervasive challenges, particularly in Gauteng, related to issuing driver’s licenses.
“The difficulties experienced by citizens in booking slots through the online platform is a serious cause for concern,” Mbalula said.
“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.”
He said problems at DLTCs impacted the livelihoods of those who require these services to put bread on the table.
“The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic laid bare these challenges, most of which are a consequence of corruption in the system,” said Mbalula.
“The additional pressure has amplified these challenges and requires of us to move with speed and deliberate focus in addressing these.”
The aim of the meeting, Mbalula said, was to take stock of the challenges and agree on decisive interventions that effectively address the challenges facing Gauteng and its DLTCs.
The interventions must deliver a system that improves efficiency, eliminates corruption, and modernises processes to eliminate the need for end-users to queue at DLTCs.
“Post our engagements, we will unpack the modalities of these interventions and commit to firm time-lines on the rollout,” Mbalula said.
“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, the transport minister said.