WINDHOEK The Roads Authority opened a new NaTIS branch office near the city centre on Friday. The move is part of efforts to improve service delivery. Situated in Tal Street, the office will relieve the general public from the frustration of long queues experienced at the main NaTIS Valley Centre in the Northern Industrial Area. Over the past months, the Roads Authority has been criticized by the public for the delay in issuing driving licences on time and the poor quality of service. Members of the public also complained that the process of getting driving licences was just too long and cumbersome. Until recently, there was no feedback mechanism in place to inform applicants when the licences would be ready, and customers paid their bills either in cash or by cheque. However, customers can now access information about the status of their driving licence applications by sending an SMS to the number 2000. Customers can also make use of their credit or debit cards to make payments at NaTis Valley. In a drive to shorten the long queues, NaTIS has now opened its new office doors in the Central Business District area located at 41 Tal Street in Ausspannplatz. Officially opening the new office, Minister of Works Transport and Communication, Joel Kapaanda, said this was step in the right direction. In light of the mounting public complaints on the long queues and quality of service at NaTis Valley during the first quarter of this year, Kapaanda directed that the management of the Roads Authority look into these problems by finding a lasting solution to improving service delivery. Consequently, the Roads Authority set up a Turnaround Strategy Committee. The committee introduced driving licence enquiries via SMS, the taking over of Vehicle and Drivers Licence Testing functions from the Namibian Police, and the Integrated Voice Recording System, which allows customers to make drivers licence queries and receive feedback promptly. The new NaTIS Tal Street Centre will cater mainly for Vehicle and Driving Licence renewals and also for the registration of vehicles for corporate clients. All other functions will still be carried out at NaTIS Valley in the Northern Industrial Area. “This arrangement will offer customers some flexibility and more choice. I therefore urge the public, especially those within the precincts of the Central Business District, to make use of the Tal Street Centre to renew their vehicle and driving licences,” urged Kapaanda. Chairperson of the Roads Authority Turnaround Management Committee and Manager of Road Transport Inspection Services at NaTIS Valley, Conrad Lutombi, said the aim is to maintain quality service and to rout out corruption. “One of our priorities of the turnaround strategy is for the Roads Authority to enhance the forensic auditing capabilities so that we may have a tight grip on corruption and systematic malpractices at all Drivers-Licensing and Vehicle-Testing Centres,” explained Lutombi. The Roads Authority, which was established in 2000, manages a road network of more than 42ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000 kilometres and is responsible for registering vehicles. Namibia has a vehicle population of more than 210ÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬Ãƒ…ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â 000. Kapaanda said that, in terms of road safety, it was vital that only drivers appropriately qualified are issued with driving licences. Thus, government allocated an amount of N$7,2-million for the construction of new testing facilities in LÃƒÆ’Ã†’Ãƒâ€ ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Â ‘ÃƒÆ’Ã†”Ã…Â¡ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â¼deritz and Oranjemund, scheduled to start early next year. Furthermore, N$8,4 million was allocated under the 2005/06 financial year for the construction of the Rundu-Katima Mulilo NaTIS One-Stop Centres which were completed last year.