Patrick Chitumba, Midlands Bureau Chief
GOVERNMENT has extended by six months, the validity of provisional driving licences and defensive driving certificates which expired from March 30.
Public service vehicle drivers who were due to go for re-tests are for now deemed duly re-tested until such a time when the Minister of Transport and Infrastructure Development notifies them in a Gazette of new dates for retesting.
Provisional licences have a one-year lifespan from the date of issue.
Following the coming into force of the country’s lockdown, a lot of time has been lost with the Vehicle Inspection Department (VID) closed, with some provisional driving licences and defensive driving certificates expiring.
This has affected thousands of people countrywide.
Government has maintained a phased approach to the reopening of the country with the VID still to re-open.
Some driving schools have, however, resumed operations.
Provisional licence holders and those with defensive driving certificates that had expired have since been given a lifeline through SI 144 of 2020.
The SI, Public Health (Covid -19 Prevention, Containment and Treatment) (National Lockdown) (Amendment) Order, 2020 (No. 11) gave provisional licence holders six more months on top of the one-year period the document is valid to compensate for time lost during the lockdown.
“The principal order is amended by the insertion after section 16 of the following section— deferment of expiry of certain documents issued under Cap. 12:11 17. If the period of validity of a learner’s licence expires after the 30th March 2020, its validity shall be automatically extended from the date of expiry to a date ending 180 days thereafter, or to the date when the national lockdown ends, whichever is the earlier date,” reads part of SI 144 of 2020.
According to the S1, defensive driving certificates which expired on March 30 will also be extended by six months.
“If the period of validity stated on a defensive driving certificate expires after the 30th March 2020, its validity shall be automatically extended from the date of expiry to a date ending 180 days thereafter, or to the date when the national lockdown ends, whichever is the earlier date,” it adds.
Government also announced a reprieve for public service drivers who were due for retesting when the lockdown was announced.
“If the date on which a public service vehicle driver must be re-tested falls due at any time between the 30th March 2020, and the date when national lockdown ends, the driver shall be re-tested on a date or dates to be notified by the Minister of Transport and Infrastructural Development by general notice in the Gazette, and until such date or dates the public service vehicle drivers concerned are deemed to have been duly and successfully re-tested,” reads part of SI 144.
The national spokesperson of the Zimbabwe Driving Schools Association Mr Noah Marima commended Government for the move.
He said learners will have more time to prepare following months of inactivity due to the Covid-19 induced lockdown.
“We totally commend Government for extending the expiry period for the provisional licences, the defensive driving certificates and public service vehicle drivers retests because it will give them a bit of time to prepare before they are able to get their licences, certificates or re-tests,” he said.
Mr Marima said as driving schools, they were eager to have VID reopen so that they get down to business.
He said some driving schools had resumed lessons but there was no date yet when the VID will reopen.
“The only challenge we have is on when VID depots across the country will open. We need to know when the Traffic Safety Council of Zimbabwe, another stakeholder of ours will reopen so that we know how to prepare to officially open,” said Mr Marima.
A provisional licence holder from Lower Gweru, Mr Munyaradzi Zano, said the extension of the expiry period for him and others learners licence holders was a welcome development.
“We were worried about the expired learners’ licences because some driving schools and the Vehicle Inspection Department are closed and this is a welcome relief,” he said.
Mr Farai Mataruse of Ascot Extension in Gweru said it was a good thing that they were being compensated for the time they could not utilise during the lockdown.
He also urged Government to allow the VID to reopen.
“Now that some driving schools have reopened, we hope that Government allows VID to reopen so that we get it over with. Some need licences, some defensive driving certificates and some need retests. But the good thing is we all have been given an extension which is good,” he said.