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Gauteng licence-seekers to get some relief
 
There's good news for people frustrated by endless queues at driver's licence testing stations - soon you will be able to go at night.
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There's good news for people frustrated by endless queues at driver's licence testing stations … soon you will be able to go at night or on Saturdays.

This comes on the heels of testing stations doing away with the much-vaunted central call centres and taking bookings themselves.

Three more testing stations will be removed from the Gauteng call-centre system within a few weeks. In November, without any notification to the public, the City of Johannesburg decided to operate its five largest testing centres - Langlaagte, Randburg, Roodepoort, Midrand and Marlboro - independently.

Previously, people were forced to book their appointments through the call centre.

According to Director of Licensing Services Gerrie Gerneke, the call centre had been done away with because there had been 18 months of backlogs and frustration after the call centre was set up.

"We were getting constant complaints, so we decided to open our doors.

"Yes, people are queueing from early in the morning, but that is only because of the huge backlog. Another problem is that people from areas outside Joburg have realised that we are open.

"We are hoping to clear the backlogs within a month," Gerneke said.

However, this is bound to lead to further delays and backlogs around the province with people using the call-centre number not being able to get appointments in Joburg at all unless they personally visit one of the city's eight stations.

Some of the larger stations, such as Langlaagte, will soon be offering evening sessions on Wednesdays and Fridays, and three sessions on Saturdays, to catch up.

The call centre was established by the Gauteng department of transport to curb corruption after it was found that driving schools were making block bookings, preventing normal members of the public from getting bookings.

The call centre could not cope.

Over the past two years, The Star has been reporting the frustration of readers trying to get bookings. Time and again, the Gauteng Shared Revenue Services promised that new technology was being put into place to alleviate the problems.

The Democratic Alliance has accused the ANC of being "in denial of an ongoing and serious problem".

Margaret Roux is one of the frustrated people trying to get an appointment. "Since September, I have been trying to book for my son to write his learner's licence. Every day when I phone, I am given the same speech: 'We must apologise for the inconvenience, but we have not been given any dates for the whole of Joburg. Please call again. If possible, try more than once a day because we do not know when dates will come through.'"

Roux said she had tried phoning the Joburg testing centres that were now operating independently but could also not get through.

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