State Media|More than 150 000 drivers who passed road tests are yet to get their driver’s licence discs as the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) is battling to secure consumables needed for their production.
The department is currently in the process of producing discs for learners who passed their tests in August 2018.
Most of the raw materials, which include metal photo plates, a special dye, a fixer and a developer, are all purchased in the United States.
The old manual machine that is used in the production process can only produce 48 driver’s licence discs at one go and frequently breaks down.
Photographs and signature sizes are also manually adjusted during the production, which makes the process laborious.
CVR Registrar Mr George Makoni told The Sunday Mail that foreign currency shortages were mainly causing the delays.
“As you may know, foreign currency is scarce and our Government has priority areas to disburse foreign currency to . . . It is not anyone’s fault, it is our situation as a country at the moment,” he said.
The challenges have been compounded by inadequate manpower.
“Our department has 85 approved posts countrywide. Those 85 are responsible for making licences for all people in Zimbabwe, and not all of them are in production.
“All licences that we make are made using manual equipment. Our systems are not yet computerised. We are using old equipment which was acquired way back. At any given time, we can only produce 48 licences, while Vehicle Inspection Department is churning out 9 000 drivers monthly. From September 2018 up to now those licences have not been made yet,” said Mr Makoni.
CVR believes it would be better to transition from metal licence discs to smart licences that are considered affordable.
A computerisation programme has been ongoing for the past two years.
“There is a computerisation programme called Zimbabwe Information Management System which was approved in 2018. Hopefully, it will develop into smart driver’s licence to take over from the metal licence.”
An electronic learner’s licence test system is already operational in both Harare and Bulawayo.
Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Joel Biggie Matiza said an import substitution programme would help solve some of the challenges in the medium to long term.
“Government has already approved localised production. We are looking at import substitution generally. We want to localise production of all licences so we do not keep importing. There are issues of security involved and also revenue; it is a process,” he said.
Last year, Government tasked innovation hubs at local universities to come up with a patented system for the local production of vehicle registration plates with adequate security features.
This followed a huge backlog in the production of vehicle registration plates.