With the old ID book licence now invalid and a number of motorists already fined for not having the new card, the waiting period for appointments for driving licence tests could be rather long.

With the old ID book licence now invalid and a number of motorists already fined for not having the new card, the waiting period for appointments for driving licence tests could be rather long.

reported that there is a three-month waiting period for test appointments at present, but this could increase to between another month and a year, depending on the number of motorists expected to reapply.

Lisa Mangcu of the Department of Transport said it believed a million motorists had not converted, but expected the real figure to be much lower. “We have to take into account that a number of motorists may have left the country, died, be in jail or decided not to convert because of failing eyesight or other problems. But we cannot say how many motorists are expected to retake the driver’s test,” he said.

Mangcu said the department was adopting a wait-and-see approach to the expected queues for driver’s licence appointments. “It’s business as usual for us. People without licences must now decide what they plan to do and normal procedures will follow at traffic departments. We will have to see just how many people retake the exam,” he said.

There were reports across the country of motorists being fined for not having the new licence on Thursday, but the figures were fairly low. Traffic officials believe many people without the licence decided to stay off the roads due to the number of roadblocks and will be expecting many more people to be fined from Friday when normal work days begin again.

Motorists in the Western Cape were fined R500, while in Gauteng it was a R2 500 offence. In all cases, the drivers were not allowed to continue their journey and had to call friends to fetch them.

Johannesburg metropolitan police spokesman Wayne Minnaar told the traffic departments were expecting applications from Friday. "At the moment, drivers are waiting an average of three months to get their licences. But if the statistics we have are correct, we could suddenly be hit with a backlog of eight months to a year," Minnaar said.