Long wait and no help

Judy Scott-Goldman, Simon’s Town

There is something seriously wrong with the Fish Hoek licensing centre.

I arrived there just before 9am on Thursday and queued for six-and-a-half hours until 3.30pm when the officials closed their doors and said they would not let anyone else in.

I was about fifth from the door. I asked if I could be at the front of the queue the following morning but was told that there is no system for that. The queue I joined at 9am in the morning was not that long but it moved at geological time scale.

I was told that the reason we were queueing for hours is that they only have four eNatis (Electronic National Administration Traffic Information System) machines. Secondly, the government is waiving fines for people who did not renew their licences between March and June, so the officials have to work out how much fine to deduct and get permission from a supervisor.

But these points are constraints, not reasons. The job of management is to create a system that works for the public, given the constraints. For instance, they could issue a certain number of tickets a day and write your ID on your ticket so that you can’t sell it (yes, I was told this happened so they stopped the system).

Or, if you don’t get in, they could allow you to book an appointment for another time. Or they could offer the staff overtime, or employ more staff. Some action is needed.

It cannot be that you have to be at Fish Hoek licensing centre before 8.30am and queue for six hours to get your car licence renewed.

There was no load-shedding or system outages today so there were no extraordinary circumstances.

I look forward to a reply from the City with some assurances that the City is looking into this.

* Mayoral committee member for finance, Ian Neilson, responds:

The City apologises for the long waiting times that its customers are experiencing while we work through a massive registration backlog created by the Level 5 and 4 shutdowns and limited functionality due to Covid regulations.

We thank our customers for their patience while we work through this unprecedented time and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

When doors close to members of the public in the afternoon, our staff continue to work into the night and over the weekends on the online applications to clear Covid-19 backlogs.

Staff have been redeployed to help with the Covid-19 backlog. For instance, in August, we performed more than 294 000 transactions, and in September, 205 000 transactions, more than double the normal volumes of about 100 000 per month.

We are operating in an abnormal time and have done our utmost to keep up our normal standards as far as humanly possible.

The City is an agent for the national government and it is allocated limited numbers of specialised eNATIS equipment on which to work in each office. The City has processed more than 683 000 transactions, including vehicle licensing, since the reopening of offices in June 2020, even amid the Covid-19 impact.

There are 1.3 million registered vehicles in Cape Town. In addition to the licence renewals, we are experiencing a high number of new vehicle registrations, around 30 000 a month.

Customers are reminded that national Covid-19 regulations still apply and the City must adhere to these. The regulations require a reduced staff complement that is allowed to assist in the front end of offices at the same time and thus fewer customers can be seen each day.

We will relook to see if there is a possibility of transferring ticketing numbers from one day to the next. However, where we have done so, there have been instances of other customers being unhappy about this.

Customers are reminded of the following national transport regulations:

Discs that expire on 30 September: renew by 21 October 2020

Discs that expired on 31 August and those who received a three-month Covid-19 grace period (expiration on 31 March, 30 April and 31 May): renew by 22 September 2020

Discs that expired on 30 June: renewal and payment by 21 July 2020

Discs that expired on 31 July: renewal and payment by 21 August 2020

Motor trade vehicle numbers/trade plate: renew by 30 November 2020

Driver’s and learner’s licences, and roadworthy certificates: renew by 31 January 2021

To register for e-Services and renew your licence online visit: online e-services portal.

For motor vehicle registration and licensing assistance, email Vehicle.Licence@capetown.gov.za

For customers who have experienced difficulties with the motor vehicle renewal and licensing online transactions, email Help.Uces@capetown.gov.za