NATIONAL NEWS - The Automobile Association (AA) has welcomed the extension of the validity period of licences by an extra two months to the end of November as a “partial victory for motorists”.
The AA launched a petition last week calling for the validity period to be extended to the end of January 2021 to give motorists enough time to renew their documents, and to provide some space to Driving Licence Testing Centres (DLTCs) to deal with backlogs, and prepare for new submissions.
Transport Department Director-General, Alec Moemi, has acknowledged the challenges at DLTCs. These include working with reduced staff and being intermittently shut down due to Covid-19.
In a statement Willem Groenewald, CEO of the AA welcomed the extension, but said it does not provide enough time to deal with backlogs. “We will continue with our petition which seeks extension until at least the end of January next year.” He said.
As of this morning, 17 July, the AA’s petition to #ExtendtheLicence has garnered more than 20 500 signatures.
“We applaud the department for taking a pragmatic approach to this issue, and for acknowledging problems at the DLTCs. Now that we have reached this point, we think it is vital to press ahead with our call for a further extension; the interests of the motorists must be protected and we cannot stop until we have reached our goal of an extension to at least the end of January 2021,” said Groenewald.
An added issue, Groenewald noted, was that drivers who are unable to renew discs or driving cards may have problems if they are involved in crashes as insurers may repudiate claims based on the fact that the drivers are not on the road legally.
Groenewald said the current extension to the end of November must be extended to at least the end of January next year.
“Our proposed extension date also makes provision for the closure of DLTCs over the festive period, and for further potential closures as a result of Covid-19,” Groenewald said.
In support of the minister resolving the problems, the AA has offered its national network of agents to assist drivers renew their licences. The association said the Minister should consider allowing third party agents – such as the AA – to perform vehicle disc and driving licence card renewal services which are currently only offered through the DLTCs and the Post Office.
It said that not only will this go a long way in dealing with the current and historical backlogs, it will also alleviate the pressure on the DLTC infrastructure going forward.
The AA’s online petition is available here.
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