In the week since the Automobile Association (AA) first raised its concerns about proposed amended fees by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) for online bookings of driving licence renewals, no official correction to these fees has been published. Instead, the AA warns, the fees as they are currently gazetted will pass into law unless they are challenged and amended.

In a Government Gazette published on 3 September, the Department of Transport noted, among other proposed amended fees for services offered by the RTMC – that online bookings for the renewal of driver licences will in future cost R250.

The AA says it stands by its earlier assessment that the published fees demonstrate a lack of sensitivity to the current plight of motorists who simply cannot renew their driving licences. The proposals include a charge to motorists of R250 for online bookings to renew driving licences (for the booking only, excluding the actual cost of the licence), R700 for online registrations of motor vehicles, and R700 for online change of ownership of motor vehicles. These fees are additional to so-called transaction fees of R72 for every transaction performed at the RTMC and R99 for the delivery of driving licence cards.

“When the issue of the R250 for online bookings was raised, the RTMC took to social media and issued press statements claiming the AA and others were misleading the public. They noted that the R250 cost of online bookings included the issuance of the credit card format driving licence – a fact which was not conveyed in the Government Gazette. Any misunderstanding is entirely due to the poor and vague wording of the Gazette which announced the fees, not through any misinterpretation from the AA. Despite all the ‘corrections’ by the RTMC, it hasn’t actually amended the proposed regulations officially,” notes the Association.

It must be noted that social media posts, press statements or media interviews do not constitute an official notification or correction of any amendment, especially a notice which has already been officially published in the Government Gazette. Only a republishing of the notice, with its correct and specific wording, will suffice legally.

The AA says its concern is that among all the hue and cry following the publication of the proposed amended fees, no correction will be published, and that the fees will remain uncorrected, and duly enacted. In light of this, the AA will continue with its online petition in support of its submission against the proposed fees due to be delivered to the Department of Transport on 4 October.

“When the issue first arose, we immediately initiated an online petition to garner support from the public for our position that these fees are outrageous and amount to a shakedown of motorists. Since the RTMC and Department of Transport have not offered any formal correction of the original Gazette we remain concerned that the process will unfold exactly as it is stated; ultimately there will be no recourse for motorists when the R250 is charged in addition to the cost of the actual card, which almost doubles the total cost for this document in Gauteng,” notes the AA.

In addition to raising this issue, the AA says it is equally perplexed that the cost of driving licence renewals varies across provinces, with motorists in provinces such as Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal paying significantly more than those in provinces such as the Western Cape.

“Gauteng motorists have no alternative and are forced to use the dysfunctional online booking system. But this service seems to come at a premium which certainly disadvantages motorists there. Apart from the fact that the entire renewal system needs to be completely replaced, we have to question why one, standard cost for the renewal of this card doesn’t apply nationwide,” says the AA.

The AA’s online petition is available https://aa.co.za/rtmc-fees-petition/.