Durban – A labour dispute has led to a nationwide backlog in the issuing of driver’s licence cards, including in KwaZulu-Natal, with some motorists having to wait up to two months.
The Department of Transport has advised all those waiting for their new driver’s licences to get a temporary licence.
The backlog is a result of industrial action that started three months ago at the Driving Licensing Card and Account (DLCA) in Gauteng.
The DLCA is the only national government department responsible for the printing of all driving licence cards for both provincial and municipal licensing centres.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the issuing of driver’s licences would usually take three to six weeks for delivery of the new licence card but since the strike at DLCA in July, some people have waited for more than two months.
The wait may be longer as the entire production team at DLCA has not been allowed to work until they sign their contracts.
A source at one of the busy licensing departments said as stock of the cards is depleted, the waiting period for driver’s licence cards to be issued is increased.
“In July and August, we had no issues as licences were being delivered in the usual time-frame, however since September we started noticing the delays,” said the source who asked not to be named as they are not allowed to speak to the media.
Another source at a provincial licensing office said some drivers who renewed their licences in August still have not received their cards.
“They are coming in so often but we have to tell them to come back another time because the licence cards have not arrived,” said the source.
The DLCA team produces about 450000 licence cards a month.
According to Themba Masango of the #NotInMyName campaign, that is in support of the employees, the disgruntled group had been working at the company for 20 years before the company was taken over by the Department of Transport in 2015.
The 15 workers in the production unit were still contract workers three years after the takeover.
“They are ready to go back to work tomorrow but only if the DLCA agrees not to forfeit their benefits. These are people who are in their 40s, 50s and 60s who dedicated 20 years of their lives to the company. They have families and responsibilities but have now not received a salary for three months. They should get what is due to them,” Masango said.
National spokesperson for the Department of Transport Ishmael Mnisi said yesterday that a contingency plan had been put in place and only 15000 cards could be produced a month.
He said the ministry issued a directive that no posts should be filled until the dispute is arbitrated upon by both the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration and the General Public Service Sector Bargaining Council.
Mnisi said while the contingency plan was being implemented, they expected the recovery of the backlog to be completed by the end of the month.
Spokesperson for the transport department in the province, Kwanele Ncalane said they had not yet completely assessed the impact of the strike and the delays in processing cards.
“For now, we are advising those who are renewing or applying for their licences for the first time to also get a temporary licence. This will suffice if they are stopped by traffic officers as it is a legal document,” Ncalane said.