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New driver’s licence launched…600 000 backlog set to be cleared.

The new standard plastic driver’s licence launched in Harare yesterday to replace the metal licences will clear a backlog of approximately 600 000 applicants who were waiting for their driving licences to be printed and issued since 2019.

The backlog was created by the use of obsolete equipment at the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR), as well as a shortage of materials to produce the costly metal discs.

Drivers will now be able to receive their licence within seven to 10 days from the day they pass their tests and will pay US$5, or the equivalent at the official exchange rate on the day of payment, for the disc.

An online booking platform is available for applicants to make appointments for the capture of biometric details.

The new Zimbabwean licence will be scannable and meet the international standards of SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community.

In the region, South Africa and some other countries already use plastic licences also known as plastic polymer licences.

At present, those who pass the Zimbabwe driving tests at VID depots countrywide are issued with a temporary paper licence before obtaining the metal licence a few months later.

One of the advantages of the new plastic licences is that they have security features that will make them difficult to forge, as well as being scannable so checks can immediately confirm the authenticity and reveal any legal issues.

Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona yesterday launched the new licences as well as the Multilingual Electronic Learner Licence Testing System and the Digital Route Permit System as a fulfilment of the ministry’s 2021 to 2025 Strategic Plan premised on the upgrading and modernisation of the transport sector.

“Allow me at the outset, to inform you that the new SADC Compliant Drivers’ licence was developed under the Zimbabwe Integrated Transport Management Information System (ZIMTIS) Project.

“The ZIMTIS project is a public-private-partnership between the Government of Zimbabwe and 1010 Technologies (Pvt) Ltd. The overall strategic objective is to create a robust Electronic Integrated Transport Management System to support our vision to become a middle-income economy by the year 2030,” he said.

Minister Mhona said the macroeconomic policy, NDS1, recognised that ICTs were key enablers of economic development, hence their entrenchment across all national development strategies.

“Similarly, ZIMTIS will integrate the strategic components of road traffic, driver training and licencing, vehicle licencing and registration, operator registration and the entire transport management function. It will also promote the efficient use of national infrastructure and sharing of information among relevant Government departments and agencies.

“I extend my profound gratitude to all stakeholders who have worked so hard to develop this new SADC compliant drivers’ licence system, which comes with increased benefits such as reduced production costs, improved turnaround time and quality of service.

“I hold this launch as an eloquent testimony of the commitment that Government and the private sector have towards efficiency and effectiveness in the processing and issuance of drivers’ licences.”

This development will foster efficiency and eliminate corruption in issuing drivers’ licences.

The new SADC-compliant drivers’ licence system will also enhance Government’s capacity to develop an electronic database of licenced drivers which will be linked with all relevant stakeholders.

Minister Mhona said Zimbabwean drivers were well sought after within the SADC region and beyond and the new licences also complied with the standard specifications of the Tripartite Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme whose objective is to harmonise and standardise driver training, testing and certification

within the region.

“Such regional initiatives and standards will facilitate conformance with international best practices to allow the use of domestic drivers’ licences for international travel.

“A licence issued in Zimbabwe will be valid for driving across the 25 tripartite countries and beyond, without any need for conversion as prescribed by Article 6.10 of the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology which provides that member states shall adopt a harmonised format of drivers’ licences and shall harmonise learner’s licence testing and codes with a view to encouraging the mutual recognition of each other’s learner’s licences,” Minister Mhona said.

He said the new drivers’ licence’s categories conformed to the requirements of the United Nations Convention on Road Traffic of 1968 and the International Organisation for Standardisation and International Electrotechnical Commission.

Minister Mhona said once SADC puts the legal framework into place, the 13 categories of the new drivers’ licence would, among others, make provision for the combination categories of a vehicle and trailer.

He said the new categories shall accommodate the different sizes of vehicles and prevent the current problem where drivers are tested on a small vehicle and then be authorised to drive a very large vehicle which the driver might not be able to operate effectively.

“The new driver’s licence shall consolidate the professional driver’s permit and the defensive drivers certificate onto a single card. Professional drivers will now be progressively certified unlike the current scenario whereby one instantly becomes a professional driver on obtaining Class 2.”

Minister Mhona said all professional driver’s permits would be renewable after two years, where drivers will be required to go for eye tests to assess vision and the ability to focus on and discern objects.

“Similarly, the drivers’ biometrics will also be periodically updated in the system. Other drivers outside the professional drivers category will also undergo eye tests and updating of their biometric records after every five years.

“It is important to note that one does not need to go for re-testing in order to renew their licence. It is crucial for all of us to be informed that we currently have a backlog of approximately 600 000 applicants waiting for their driving licences to be printed and issued.

“This backlog dates to 2019 because of obsolete equipment at Central Vehicle Registry (CVR), as well as a shortage of materials to produce the costly metal discs. I am pleased that the manual records for Certificates of Competency have been scanned, captured, and are now stored in electronic format.

“The new drivers’ licence system will expedite clearance of backlog at CVR, ease the heavy demand for drivers’ licences that has been a challenge in the country and also make them readily accessible at a reasonable service fee of US$5 for applicants on backlog, payable at the official rate.

“An online booking platform is available for applicants to make appointments for the capturing of biometric details,” Minister Mhona said.

His ministry would work tirelessly and diligently to remove the human element in the assessment of the competence of prospective drivers.

“Our country cannot afford to continue to lose lives by putting unqualified people, who would have acquired driver’s licences fraudulently, behind the wheel and put countless lives at terrible risk on our roads.

“This is the reason why my ministry launched the Electronic Learner Licencing Testing System and is now launching a new driver’s licence system that uses the latest digital technologies, biometric authentication and has 31 state-of-the-art security features embedded into the new drivers’ licence card.

“The integration of the New Card Printing facility with the Vehicle Inspectorate Department’s Electronic Learners’ Licence Testing (ELLT) System has been completed,” Minister Mhona said.

The ELLT is now available in Shona and Ndebele and the Government has also translated and printed the National Highway Code into Shona and Ndebele.

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