Licence Firm Fails to Deliver

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Despite the high profitability of the contract for the issuance of new driving licences to tens of thousands of Namibians, the firm that secured the tender appears to have failed to fulfil its mandate. Several months after an aggressive marketing campaign that prompted tens of thousands of motorists to meet the deadline by paying N$150 for different driving codes and N$180 for buses and trucks, many people are bitter that the new licences have yet to be issued. And when they inquire with NaTIS, the Government agency tasked with the issuance of vehicle licences, they get one excuse after another. The growing dissatisfaction has in turn forced the Roads Authority, under whose ambit NaTIS resorts, to start prodding the private company to fulfil what is mainly turning into empty promises as there appears no solution in sight. In an interview with New Era yesterday, Roads Authority (RA)’s Divisional Manager Wilfried Brock expressed disappointment over the slow response to the demanding situation of production of licence cards. Last year July, the licence office decided to stop the production of blank licence cards after the discovery that the quality of cards was inferior. New Era understands the firm that landed the tender lacks capacity. Considering that this is the only company in the country that apparently can do the job, Brock told New Era that the pressure and complaints from the public have put his office in an awkward situation. That has forced the Roads Authority to allow the production of cards believed to be of a lower quality and can easily be forged. “A substandard card is better than nothing. It is not a durability problem, it’s not 100 percent good in terms of quality but it’s better to give a 90 percent quality product than zero percent,” he said. Though Roads Authority’s goal is to provide cards that are of 100 percent quality, Brock says his office will continue pressurising the tendered company to speed up the process. All along, cards were being issued but the Roads Authority realised early last year that the quality was not in accordance with the contract. Brock could not go into detail, adding that these are technical things and also for security reasons. The company says the delay is due to the fact that the materials needed to produce the cards come from France. Brock further stated that “they (tendered company) said it will take months to re-design the cards and also the shipping of the materials to here”. Given this delay, some members of the public have suggested to NaTIS that another company be awarded the contract. Unfortunately, Brock says, if there were an option he would surely have done that already, but presently there is no other company in Namibia that would do a better job. The contract, signed with a company whose name he could not give, stipulates that the quality of cards should meet certain international standards. The agreement was signed in September 2002, and it expires next year. “We will go on a new tender. In the meantime, there is no other option,” said Brock. For individuals whose temporary driver’s licences have expired or are about to expire, the divisional manager stressed that such people must go to his office and collect new temporary licences for free as the company cannot afford to have people driving without licences. “I am confident that the product will be updated soon,” Brock assured. For those that obtained their cards before stoppage, Brock says, “it’s not a matter that cards will disintegrate, it’s only that we want to make sure the quality is in line with the international standards and we want quality for money”. During the license conversion period, 153 000 licences were converted. Approximately 16 000 cards are still to be produced.