New regulations on driving licence fees have angered motorists. Picture: DENIS DROPPA
New regulations on driving licence fees have angered motorists. Picture: DENIS DROPPA

Controversial new regulations concerning fees for driving licences are confusing and should be reissued, says the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa).

Earlier this week, Outa and the Automobile Association (AA) criticised the government for implementing an apparently new fee of R250 for booking a driving licence online, proposed in the draft Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) Regulations 2021, which amend the 2007 regulations.

The announcement caused anger among motorists who believed they were being charged more, and led to the AA launching a public petition to object to the proposal. The gazetted notice, with details for submitting one’s comment is here.

However, the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) said Outa was mistaken and that R250 was an existing fee.

The only difference is that motorists will be able to pay it online, if they so choose, rather than to go and queue at a driving licence testing centre (DLTC), said RTMC spokesperson Simon Zwane.

He said other fees listed in the draft regulations, including R700 for online registration of a motor vehicle, were also not new.

Outa has hit back saying it was a “poorly worded” notice about fees for motoring services, and should be rewritten and reissued.

“The public debate over what the proposed regulations mean, and the RTMC’s different interpretation, underline the inadequate drafting,” said advocate Stefanie Fick, Outa’s executive director.

“The confusion arises from the RTMC and department of transport’s inability to communicate clearly. We simply can’t tell from their ambiguous wording in the schedule what it means. Outa, like the rest of the public can only interpret the meaning of their published fees from what is described in the gazette.”

Outa said it was unable to find the previous notice and fees, and the RTMC has not provided it with a copy as requested.

“We recommend that the department of transport recall this notice and fix it for reissue, as it is impossible to ask the public to [comment] on a notice so ambiguous and inconsistent in the descriptions provided,” says Fick.

This confusion over the fees is compounded by the failure of the RTMC and department of transport to have provided the public with an clear list of all vehicle and licence fees online.

Instead, motorists face a murky situation of national fees charged by RTMC and additional provincial fees that vary from province to province.

“This is particularly problematic given the corruption entrenched in the driving licence system,” said Fick.

Transport minister Fikile Mbalula recently extended the grace period for the renewal of expired driving licences to March 31, 2022 due to a huge backlog.

All learner’s licences, driving licence cards, temporary driving licences and professional driving permits that expired between March 26 2020 and August 31 2021 are deemed to be valid until the new date.

This follows an earlier grace period extension to August 31, announced last December.

droppad@arena.africa

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