Roger Foster, Simon’s Town
It has taken me six trips to the municipal offices in Fish Hoek to renew the licence on my wife’s car and initiate the renewal of my driver’s licence. Nor was I the only one struggling.
By the sixth visit I was on first name terms with fellow applicants and the guard in the car park.
Why so slow?
The main problem lies with the proof of residence requirement and the bureaucratic zeal with which it is being enforced. Each person at each window scrutinises documents afresh and decides whether they are acceptable. My municipal rates bill was rejected because it is in my name and not that of my wife. I had to get a sworn affidavit from SAPS attesting to the fact that she lives at the same address – this in spite of having a copy of her ID and her signed proxy.
I returned on the two following days to find long queues and only one window open, before finally striking it lucky on the third day – my fourth – and getting the car licence.
In the drivers’ licensing section the process involves three different phases – enquiries, eye testing and cashier, each with its own queue. The municipal bill which earlier passed muster at car licences is rejected because my name on it is reduced to my three initials and then written out in full, so I have too many initials. The lady ahead of me has too few – the length of her name leaves no room for her three initials. An elderly lady with a British passport is sent away with the news that her passport is insufficient – she will have to apply for a local ID.
A man with a UK driver’s licence decides against converting it when the whole conversion procedure is explained to him.
I return the following day with another sworn affidavit, this time from my body corporate, confirming my address. I progress to eye testing. Everything takes place in ultra slow motion with bottlenecks at each new window.
Each year we dance the same dance – the whole process is needlessly tedious and repetitive. There are computers now to store information; we have IDs with bar codes carrying all our details, so there is no need for everything to be duplicated every twelve months. The cumulative waste of man hours across the country for car licence renewals alone must be huge. I am fortunate enough to be retired and have access to a computer and documents. Think of the thousands of people who are less fortunate. They have to wade through a bureaucratic mire with no one to assist.
Civil servants are also trapped in an antiquated system, which needs to be revised and moved into the 21st century.
We have made the simple difficult.
Is the provincial government innovative enough to make a change for the better?