Government in learner’s licence U-turn

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THE government has made a U-turn on its earlier decision to extend by six months the validity of provisional driver’s licences and defensive driver’s certificates which expired from March 30 onwards.
Following the Covid-19 outbreak, the government imposed a strict lockdown which banned all public gatherings, with only essential services allowed to operate.

The Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) was also closed during the lockdown, thereby disadvantaging those who had attained provisional driver’s licences and defensive driver’s certificates.

This prompted the government to issue a Statutory Instrument giving a reprieve to provisional licence holders.

The SI extended six more months on the one-year period of the validity of all provisional driver’s licences and defensive driving certificates.

However, it has since emerged that the government reneged on its promise, resulting in thousands of the licences expiring —a development that has seen long queues at VID centres around the country with aspiring drivers seeking to renew.

Transport minister Joel Biggie Matiza yesterday explained the rationale in the decision to renege on the earlier decision to give a reprieve to learner drivers.

“Following the 32nd Cabinet approval on September 15, 2020, Cabinet lifted the restriction on VID and it now operates all sections  . . learner’s licence, re-test and defensive diving certificates, among others.

“Following the lockdown, the provisions under SI 114 of 2020 were that whatever comes first between lifting of lockdown or 180 days extension supersedes the other.

“In this case, it was the lifting of the lockdown that came first and this implies the extension of the 180 days for learner’s licence no longer held.

“All those whose learner’s licences expired during the lockdown period should therefore re-apply,” Matiza told the Daily News.

further dismissed speculation that the VID intended to review upwards learner’s licence fee from the current $100 to $1 000.

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