Only 50 000 motorists out of one million countrywide have converted to the credit-card-style licence since the extension and, with one month to go, traffic departments are preparing to stay open 24 hours a day.

Only 50 000 motorists out of one million countrywide have converted to the credit-card-style licence since the extension in March and, with one month to go, traffic departments are preparing to stay open 24 hours a day to accommodate the rush.

Lisa Mangcu, manager of road traffic police operations at the department of transport, said that an average of 760 motorists were applying each day. He said the response was disappointing and a last-minute rush would be inevitable. “We met our provincial counterparts this week and decided not to introduce further fines for motorists who have not converted yet,” he said. Mangcu had said last month that they were considering further fines of between R500 and R1 500 to cover the costs of the extra staff and resources needed to stay open for longer hours.

Some provinces have increased their fines, in particular Gauteng, which added R300 to the total cost of the conversion. “But we felt that the current fines were enough to cover additional administration costs and we also did not want it to look like we were punishing motorists who had not yet converted,” said Mangcu.

Meanwhile, the Automobile Association has said that it still intends going to court to obtain clarity on the Road Traffic Act.

The department says it has gazetted a notification that the licence in the identity document will not be valid from May 1, but the AA says it wants clarity on whether it has the power to do this.

“The Act does say they may do that, but other sections of the Act are in conflict with this. It states that a licence is issued once the person has proven their competence to drive a vehicle. If those motorists have to retake the exam then it means their competency has been taken away, which is illegal,” said AA spokesman Gary Ronald.

“It also states in another section of the Act that a licence is valid indefinitely, which is also in conflict with other sections of the Act. We have asked the department for clarity on this, but have not had an answer and we intend going to the Pretoria High Court for a ruling on the matter,” he said.

“We also cannot accommodate all the motorists who would then have to retake their tests for learner’s and driver’s licences,” said Ronald.

Original article from Car