UPDATE: South Africa’s drivers licence printing machine has been fixed, as per Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula. The Minister said three hours ago, “The machine is up and running on the 24/h shifts cycle… we [plan] to meet the demand and kill the backlog. The machine had challenges due to power outages.”
The machine that prints all of South Africa’s driver’s licences has broken down for a second time. The 20-year-old machine broke down on 7 November 2021. Last year, it was sent to Germany for repairs. This time, German technicians are coming to South Africa to fix it.
Unusually long delays reported by licence applicants in Makana and Ndlambe prompted Talk of the Town to ask whether the licence printing machine had broken down again and this was confirmed by the Eastern Cape’s Acting Chief Director: Transport Regulations, Xolisa Jakuja.
“It is confirmed that the machine is broken down, but it is expected that a technician from Germany will be attending to it this weekend [and that all will be] back to normal by Tuesday,” said Jakuja.
Jakuja said they would know by Tuesday (18 October 2022) whether there will be any further delays.
According to TimesLive, around a million people waiting to be issued with new or renewed driver’s licences were affected by the two-and-a-half months-long outage from 7 November 2021 to 26 January 2022. The backlog was exacerbated by closures and staggered office hours during the Covid-19 lockdown. Mbalula granted drivers with expired licences due to the lockdown whose cards expired after March 26 2020 an extension until the end of March 2022 to renew them.
Minster of Transport Fikile Mbalula announced last month that the current driver’s licence card, introduced in 1998, would be replaced with one that complies with international standards. The current driver’s licence card and the equipment used to produce it would be decommissioned on April 1 2024 and the current cards would be valid until 31 March 2029.