South Africa's only driving license card printer has been fixed, according to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula, who also revealed how it appears.
On Tuesday, January 25, 2022, Mbalula claimed he paid a visit to the Driver's Licence Card Account (DLCA) division of the Department of Transport (DoT) and discovered the licensing card machine was restored and operational.
“The staff is pulling day and night shifts to ensure your licences are made and delivered,” the minister stated.
His visit comes after he promised to show the machine to South Africans last Wednesday, but he never did.
A video and images of the machine, which appeared to be large enough to occupy a large room, were also released by the department.
A DLCA staffer stands next to the printer for driver's license cards.
The 20-year-old machine failed in early November after a power spike caused by flooding in a building near the government's printing plant.
The machine was shipped back to Germany for repairs on January 12, 2021, according to the minister.
Its near three-month absence has worsened a serious backlog of license card renewals, which has been exacerbated by the closure of Driver's Licence Testing Centers (DLTCs) as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
Less than a month after the machine broke down, nearly 400,000 more license cards were added to the backlog. This figure is likely to have risen to well over half a million by the end of the year.
It excludes license card renewals, which were postponed well before the breakdown.
Mbalula has blamed the previous delays on outdated systems and corruption.
He also stated that he would announce other ways to help clear the backlog, including the granting of temporary licensing permits, but no such announcements have been made.
Mbalula stands next to the machine, carrying a quantity of freshly printed driver's license cards, as seen in a screenshot from the Department of Transportation's video.
The Democratic Alliance has previously expressed its dissatisfaction with the lack of a backup machine to provide redundancy in the event of a failure.
To fight corruption, the transportation administration said that the printing of driver's license cards was centralized.
The machine's age, on the other hand, has been a cause of anxiety for several years.
Mbalula has refused to accept responsibility for the matter, stating that the problems predate his time as minister.
However, human rights group Outa has pointed out that in March 2021, he signed off on a DLCA report stating that the machine needed to be replaced immediately.
Mbalula has vowed that South Africa will get a new form of driver's license that meets international standards.
Cabinet has yet to approve the card and the tender that goes with it.
It will be printed on new equipment, but it is unclear whether the government would use many machines this time.
In the video released by the Department of Transportation, further photographs of various sections of the driver's license card printer are shown below.
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