While one department issues driving licences, the other offers passports.
In essence, both the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) and the Immigration Department regulate our movement. But an aggravating similarity exists between the two: their ability to annoy you with their unseasoned systems of operations, corrupt practices and unsavory customer service.
While you may walk in with a sober mind, you often walk out feeling the crushing weight of their evident failure.
Some say that is how it is! It is time we stop resigning to such comments. Settling for mediocrity is accepting to suffer in silence while the few who benefit from the system continue in luxury at our expense.
We will remain frustrated with systems and behaviour that can and should be changed. For all our tax, this is the least our government can do—creating efficient systems that will ease our pockets and improve productivity.
The resources spent trying to navigate such mediocre systems can be put to better use.
Allow me to demonstrate.
Some years back, DRTSS adopted a computer system from South Africa to improve operations. But for all the fingerprinting security, corrupt practices have just taken on a new flair. They are now a coordinated syndicate like drug cartels, where evading the manual car test and getting a licence means paying an exorbitant amount shared among different staff in the examination room and beyond.
Strangely, although some form has a tick box of an automatic car test, DRTSS does not offer that. Upon inquiry, one staff told me that ‘we’ are using a South African system. We all know how difficult it would be to delete ‘Automatic Car’ from a word document!
If it is possible to test with an automatic car, why is our country not doing it when even the system we have adopted actually does? Other countries offer ‘an automatic car only’ driving licence: South Africa, UK, most States in the US and the European Union.
I believe it is just a ploy by our government to extort money from citizens, because most applicants take the test three to four times to get that license—and they have to pay for each attempt.
Why torture people to get a licence for a manual car when the only time they will ever drive it is during that examination?
We can start repairing the system to lessen the burdens on citizens instead of adding to them.
Introducing automatic car tests for a population with a growing number of these cars is not rocket science. It is just the thing to do! This will reduce the number of half-baked drivers that acquire licenses illegally and drive dangerously on the road.
The Immigration Department is another story. Either you know somebody or bribe somebody. If not, you suffer in silence. Of course, you can fast track the processing of a passport to between less than three days by paying extra or settling for the a month long process which is pricey.
A colleague of mine paid for the one-month option, yet the passport was still not ready when he returned two months later. An immigration officer even had the audacity to suggest that paying extra cash would fast track the process. Paying more for a service they had delayed.
Can we not learn from other African countries like Rwanda that have put such systems online and a passport is issued within three days for everyone and for the same manageable price? What is wrong with our country?
We have wallowed in mediocrity for far too long. For all the money coming out of our pockets, we deserve to receive matching services to match.