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Chaos as drivers try to renew licences
Cape Town motorists are being turned away because the new e-Natis electronic system is still not up and running.

The Cape Town traffic department descended into chaos on Tuesday as motorists were turned away because the new electronic system was still not up and running.

Traffic departments have been experiencing problems with the system for weeks and people were told it would be operational by last Friday reports on the "frustration" caused when the new system was launched in Goodwood, Cape Town.

But the system was still off-line on Tuesday, which meant that motorists could not renew their driver's licences or pay fines.

The department was still running driver's licence and learner's licence tests, but could not issue certificates.

Transport Minister Jeff Radebe was expected to officially launch the new system in Johannesburg this morning. The e-Natis electronic system, which manages municipal traffic departments countrywide, has replaced the National Traffic Information System (Natis).

According to the ministry, e-Natis uses state-of-the-art technology to help register, store, record, manage and enforce the National Road Traffic Act and National Road Traffic regulations.

The new system went off-line on Wednesday and traffic departments put up notices telling people that it would be on-line by Friday or Saturday.

But early on Tuesday people were being turned away from traffic departments because the system was still down.

The system delays continued all day at the Hillstar traffic department in Wetton. An officer at the station said they were helping people but only at the pace that the system would allow. At one stage, they said, it took half an hour to do one transaction. They later started turning people away.

Frank Pikaan from Belhar queued for three hours.

"This is ridiculous, it can't go on like this. Then it's on-line and then it's off-line," he said.

On Tuesday was the third time in a week he had queued. He said he had been told to come back on Friday but the system had been off-line and on Tuesday he had made another trip.

Metro Police spokesperson Kevin Maxwell confirmed that they were still having problems with the system.

"It is a matter beyond our control and it does affect us and the business adversely."

He could not say when the new system would be running smoothly but it was hoped it would be on-line on Friday.

Testing stations are still open and are able to do other tasks manually and issue cards.

They cannot do any transactions or anything that requires updating motorists' data on the system.

Earlier Maxwell said the new system would eventually solve the long waiting list problems when booking licence tests.

Motorists would not be fined for late licence renewals caused by the system failure, he said.

    • This article was originally published on page 6 of Cape Argus on April 17, 2007