In what is likely to come as a shock to Swazi motorists, a local truck driver got more than he had bargained for when he was arrested in South Africa for driving without the SADC driving licence.
The Weekend Observer can reveal that the South African government has embarked on a crackdown on motorists driving without the mandatory SADC driving licence also known as ‘C’ driving licence, a move that will certainly affect motorists travelling to the neighbouring country.
The 42-year-old driver was arrested while driving along the R61 Mpenjathi road in Port Edward in the Kwazulu Natal province and was slapped with a E1500 fine. Alternatively, he was warned to appear at the Ramsgate Magistrate Court on August 8, 2012. The said fine was to be paid on or before 16 July, 2012. He requested that his name not be published.
According to documents in possession of this newspaper, he was driving a truck registered NU 49653.
The visibly shocked driver said he was stopped by police officers from Port Edward police station and asked to produce his driver’s licence. He duly produced his Swaziland driver’s licence issued in terms of Section 47 of the Road Traffic Act of 1965 as amended.
To his dismay, he was told that his licence was invalid and asked to produce the SADC licence.
“I was totally dump-founded and tried to plead my case and explained that the SADC licences are not yet operational in Swaziland. Whilst pleading my case, they started reading the particular section I had contravened and informed me of my rights”, said the astonished driver.
“Upon arrival in Swaziland, I enquired from local traffic police and they told me to go to the ministry of public works and transport to get answers.
When I got there they told me there was nothing they could do because as far as they were concerned the issue of SADC licences was still being discussed. I was left confused and decided to pay the fine than go to jail”, he added. Approached for comment, Director of the Road Transportation Department (RTD), Nathaniel Dlamini, whose portfolio handles the conversion of the existing licences to SADC requirements, was equally shocked at the news and said that his ministry was not yet aware of the matter.
He said what had happened was totally unacceptable because as far as he was concerned there was an existing agreement between the two countries to give Swaziland more time to implement the SADC requirements.
“This is unbelievable because our minister met with his South African counterpart, where he asked to be given time on the SADC licence conversion logistics”, said Dlamini.
Pressed to comment on what exactly was causing the delays on the compliance with the SADC Protocol which Swaziland was signatory to, Dlamini had this to say: “As a ministry we need to put in place a legal framework before we can do anything.
As we speak, the regulations for the conversion of licences is now in Parliament, once the august house approves them it’s all systems go”.
The protocol is known as the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology.
… Lack of political will delaying compliance
In order to meet the unprecedented demand for the new SADC licence conversion, Swaziland needs a strong political will to kick start the process, stakeholders have observed.
The lack of political will has been cited as causing the delay in the implementation and compliance with the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology signed by SADC countries, including Swaziland three years ago.
Swaziland is lagging behind in domesticating and implementing the SADC Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology.
In a document leaked to the Weekend Observer and directed to the Minister of Public Works and Transport, Ntuthuko Dlamini, the stakeholders urged government to give the matter the urgency it deserves. The stakeholders include, among others, driving school owners, Examiners of driver’s licences, Road Safety Council, Royal Swaziland Police (RSP) and the Road Transportation Department (RTD) under the ministry of public works and transport.
They proposed that government need to first provide a one stop Driver Licence Testing Centre (DLTC) in all the country’s four regions, where each centre shall have a testing ground, examining rooms for learners, revenue offices, eye testing equipment, card facility production centre and offices for driver license scanners.
They also urged government to issue temporary SADC driving licenses to all valid driver’s licence holders. “Alternatively, government can use mobile or temporal structures on existing testing grounds (similar to the mobile classrooms bought by the Ministry of Education) so as to have a day to day operation”, read part of the document. They also proposed that government purchases a Natis Computer System to enhance data capture at local and regional level on motor registration, drivers licences, psv permits, stolen and recovered vehicles, traffic cases outcomes from courts, which such information can be linked to SADC countries.
The stakeholders further called for the establishment of the Road Traffic Management Agency, a national governing body to coordinate all traffic services just as it obtains in the rest of the SADC countries.