A SCATHING report on the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality’s driving licences division revealed that the city lost nearly R5-million in revenue since 2009 due to poor service.
Hampered by a serious staff shortage and long queues at the Bay’s two centres, learners are opting to go to neighbouring towns to obtain driver’s licences.
The news follows a report on the city’s safety and security department’s warrant of arrest unit, which has more than R2-million in outstanding traffic fines that cannot be collected, also as a result of the dire staff situation.
A report on the safety and security department’s income at the driving licences division, discussed at a portfolio committee meeting on Friday, highlighted a significant decrease in the number of driving licence tests.
As a result of the staff shortages, the city lost R2.6-million between 2009 and last year in learner’s and driver’s licence applications fees.
And for driver’s licence card applications, the municipality lost R2.2-million in potential income.
The division has a total of 43 staff members – of which five are in the roadworthy division – covering both Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage centres.
This is significantly less than the staff complement of 339 at Cape Town’s driving licence centres. It does not, however, include the centres in the CBD, Muizenburg and Western Areas of Cape Town.
In the report, safety and security acting executive director Shane Brown said: "The driving licence division has gone from bad to worse ...
"It is envisaged that the current situation will in fact become worse as more and more staff are starting to book off sick [because] they can no longer cope with the demand.
"Driving schools also issued a direct warning to the department that they are taking their business elsewhere. They made it clear that they will bring the business back should we be able to provide a better service.”
Brown said his department in 2008 proposed an additional licensing centre at Motherwell – which would ease the backlog – but it was turned down due to lack of funds.
Despite the gloomy situation, Brown said: "The division is convinced that if operating at its full potential and having all positions filled as per the current organogram as well as additional support staff, we will not only be in a position to recover the income, but also generate additional income as we will be able to increase the number of tests and the standard of service delivery, and by doing so cause the public to come back to our centres.”