Issuing of Licences Back on Track

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK After a halt to the issuance of blank driver’s licence cards by a company that secured the tender, the Roads Authority announced two days ago the resumption of card-production. Last year in July, the company took a decision to stop producing the cards, a situation prompted by its contracted company’s delay in remedying complaints about the quality of the cards. Roads Authority spokesperson, Audrin Mathe, confirmed that the United Africa Group had received a shipment of new materials and has resumed production. The contract, signed in September 2002 between the Roads Authority and the group, stipulates that the quality of the cards should meet international standards. All along, quality cards were being issued, but the Roads Authority realized early last year that the quality was not in accordance with the contract. With a backlog of about 16ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 cards, Mathe gave this assurance: “It is expected that the backlogs will be cleared by the middle of next month.” At least 2ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 cards have been printed since last week. Although Mathe could not provide figures on the number of cards previously produced per day, he says the new materials will enable the responsible company to print about 900 cards per day. The licence company has been capturing data while the printing of cards was on hold. Mathe could not divulge where exactly the materials were bought and at what cost. For those who obtained their cards before the stoppage, Roads Authority Divisional Manager, Wilfried Brock, had said previously: “It’s not a matter of the cards disintegrating; it’s only that we want to make sure the quality is in line with international standards, and we want quality for money.” 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 were bitter that they were not given new licences. The growing dissatisfaction 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 appeared to be no solution in sight. Considering that this is apparently the only company in the country that can do the job, Brock told New Era that the pressure and complaints from the public had placed his office in an awkward position. This had forced the Roads Authority to allow the production of cards which are believed to be of a lower quality and which can be easily forged. “A sub-standard card is better than nothing. It is not a problem of durability; it’s not 100 percent in terms of quality, but it’s better to give a 90 percent quality product than zero percent,” he said. During the licence conversion period, 153ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 licences were converted. Approximately 16ÃÆ’Æ‘ÀÃ…ÃÆ”šÃ‚ 000 cards are still to be produced.