Editorial : Is the issuance of new Driver’s License justified?

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA), last week, issued a circular to its staff informing them that at the end of March, 2024, all PVC card licence would no more be valid. The circular reads:

Pursuant to regulation 33(7) of the road traffic regulations, 2021 (LI 2180), management wishes to inform staff that, all smart card driver’s licences issued in September 2017 will be due for replacement, beginning September 17, 2023.

Holders of Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) card (driver’s licence) are to present them to the nearest DVLA offices for verification and replacement for smart card driver’s licence.

This exercise takes effect from now till March 31, 2024 when all PVC card (driver’s licence) shall be declared invalid by the Authority.

All staff are to take note of this development and educate clients who visit their respective offices for further enquiries.

According to the circular, requirements for replacing driver’s licences would see applicants undergo and pass a mandatory eye test at any DVLA accredited eye test centres, and also present the driver’s licence in person to the nearest DVLA office for replacement.

Though the DVLA is quoting the relevant law to back the decision to phase out the PVC card licence in 2024, The Chronicle disagrees with the method it has adopted to achieve its objective. Per the circular, the issuance of new smart drivers’ license is free, but the holder of the old card must first go for a mandatory eye check.

The DVLA assumes that because these licenses are going to expire in 2024, where they would have been renewed at the expense of the holders, the duty to renew in the truncated process rests on them (holders). That is to say, one has to pay for the eye test before getting the new drivers’ license being introduced.

The Chronicle finds this development a bit problematic, because had it not been the truncated process, some of the holders would have renewed their licences in December, 2024, but they are being asked to do so in March the same year and pay for the eye test that is not due in the first place.

Also, when the National Identification Authority card (Ghana Card) was being introduced, Ghanaians were made to understand that it would replace all government issued identity cards. It was upon the basis of this that those who qualified to register were asked to bring along their Driver’s License, Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) and all government issued ID cards.

Those who obeyed the instruction had their driver’s licence and biometric SSNIT card among others loaded onto the Ghana Card. In our opinion, if the DVLA wants to add value to the existing cards, the best thing to do is to ask holders to present their Ghana Cards so they can load the bio data onto them.

Unfortunately, this is not what is being done, but rather a new driver’s license is being produced with modern security features at a great cost to the state, instead of relying on the Ghana Card which has similar features. The Chronicle finds this development very worrying and, therefore, appealing to the management of the DVLA to come out and explain to the public why a new and expensive Smart card is being introduced by a government agency, instead of relying on the already existing Ghana Card to achieve the same result.

Looking at the current state of our national economy, state agencies must be careful not to pile up more debts for the government to pay.  Unless the issuance of the new driver’s license is a subtle way of raising taxes to support the running of the country, we beg to say it is a waste of the tax payers’ money and must be stopped now.

All the security features the DVLA is looking for can be found on the Ghana Card. They must, therefore, ask drivers to link their licenses with the Ghana Card instead of the current method, which apart from imposing financial burden on the holders of the Drivers’ License, is also a waste of the tax payers’ money.





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