It is with great honour and privilege that I stand before you today on this significant occasion. As the Department of Transport, we are here today to pledge our support to your campaign and efforts of ensuring that all vehicles utilised by learner drivers in our province adhere to the Covid-19 health and safety guidelines under Alert Level 3 of the national lockdown.
Importantly, this programme is part of ensuring compliance in the driving school industry, which is one of the critical sectors of the economy, mainly youth employment.
Programme Director, several years ago, my predecessor, the Honourable Willies Mchunu mandated that the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Transport Interim Driving School Task Team be formed.
One of the key objectives of the task team was to develop a mechanism of formalising and regulating the Driving Schools Industry.
Our view as government was that driving schools should be registered as we wanted to professionalise their business.
In 2014 the Department launched a regulatory framework governing driving schools in the province. The Department later developed a training manual for instructors, as part of a skills development programme. The training manual also outlines the minimum norms and standards that driving schools had to adhere to.
By regulating the industry, we wanted to ensure that driving schools produce competent drivers who are afraid to break the law and who obey the rules of the road. For us to reduce road fatalities and accidents on our roads we need to start by capacitating driving schools.
Training of Instructors
To-date, 790 out of 1120 instructors have been trained in the province. There are currently 930 driving school operators that have been registered and issued with provincial certificates.
In January this year, the Driving School Task Team met to discuss the provincial driving school elections. The driving school elections were scheduled to take place in April 2020 but were disrupted due to the Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown regulations. A new date will be announced following discussions between the Department and the Task Team.
New Driving School Applications
The Department has received just over 300 applications for new Driving Schools and a Technical Team was assembled to process these applications.
To date 150 applications have been approved and 180 applications are currently being reviewed. This process was scheduled to be completed in March but was also disrupted by the Covid-19 outbreak and closure of our offices. All applicants will be notified of the decision of the Department once the review process has been finalised.
Government is acutely aware of the challenges affecting the Driving Schools Industry which include the following:
– National Department of Transport is still developing the Driving School Legislation in order to fully regulate the industry.
– The domicile rule is one of the critical areas as it states that Driving School Operators must practice within the jurisdiction of appointment.
– The establishment of proper training facilities for driving school instructors to provide tuition for learners.
– Moratorium to prescribe a cut-off date for Driving school registration.
– Understaffing of the driving school component.
– No budget for the project.
– Instructors with criminal convictions.
The Department is committed to fast-tracking the implementation of compliance strategies, office documentation and motor vehicle compliance.
We are also implementing measures that will deal with fraud and corruption at the Driving Licence Testing Centres. As the Department, we are fully committed to rooting out the cancer of corruption happening between the driving schools and government officials.
We are paying careful attention to Driver Licence Testing Centres as we are making serious interventions in curbing the fraudulent issuing of learners and drivers’ licences. This is important in ensuring that we produce competent drivers, who understand the rule of law and who value life. We also urge driving schools to report government officials who are corrupt.
Lastly, although we have limited resources and are facing budgetary constraints, the Department is looking at ways to fund programmes related to the driving school sector, such as investing in the training of instructors.
In closing, we are fully committed to nurturing our partnership between the Department and Driving Schools Industry and forging an even stronger partnership with the industry as one of our key stakeholders.
— Arrive Alive (@_ArriveAlive) June 25, 2020