The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) will, from July 18, this year, introduce a new biometric driving licence.
To be issued within a period of one month, the new licence is aimed at doing away with the incidence of fake licences from the system and cutting out middlemen, popularly known as ‘goro boys’, from the licensing regime.
The Chief Executive Officer of the DVLA, Mr Kwasi Agyeman Busia, told the Daily Graphic yesterday that the new licence, unlike the previous one, would be difficult to clone.
The smart card driving licence, he explained, would have an embedded contact-less chip that stores details of the driver’s information, while a smart vehicle registration card with details of vehicles and owners would be embedded in a contact-less chip.
“This will ensure that people who have made duplication an industry will have it extra difficult to duplicate the licence. It will be practically impossible, as it will have enhanced security.
“It will also help us manage the revenue that will come to the authority because duplication is causing a lot of revenue leakage, particularly in the driving licence area. Driving licences have become the standard of our authority. We want to make sure this is protected,” he said.
Old applicants and backlogs
The termination of a contract between the DVLA and Messrs Foto-X/Digimarc Ltd over an allegation of fraud resulted in a backlog of applications for new licences.
With some applicants still waiting for their licences since 2014, the DVLA boss said the build-up would be cleared by July 18.
The last time the DVLA tried clearing the backlog was in November 2015 when 40,000 licences were issued.
Mr Busia said applicants who applied from 2014 would have to go back to the DVLA with their receipts to be recaptured and be given new driving licences at no extra cost to them.
Current licensed drivers would be issued with the new licences when they go for the renewal of their expired licences, he said.
Currently, it costs GH¢326 to acquire a new licence, with no binding time frame on the DVLA to deliver it.
Renewals, on the other hand, cost GH¢45.
Asked about the cost of the new licence, the DVLA Boss said the authority was still discussing it, but hinted that the cost would be slightly higher than the current cost “but affordable”.
“The pricing will be more but it will be reasonable. It will be printed in-house, as the DVLA has examined contracts that had been outsourced in the past but did not live up to expectation, in spite of the exorbitant prices charged,” he stated.
With the law making it compulsory for new drivers to have at least 48 hours training in driving schools, the schools charge GH¢620.
But Mr Busia said the law would be amended to make driving school training optional, as what was necessary was for the applicant to be able to pass the required examination by the DVLA.
Bureaucratic red tapeism at the DVLA, which sometimes results in applicants receiving expired licences, has been blamed for the growing influence of middlemen in the issuance of licences.
However, the DVLA Boss said that would be confined to history, as “we are going to make sure that the new driver’s licence is accessible in three to four weeks. For renewals, it is the same.
“The idea is that you even have the option of it being delivered to you at home or you can pick it up yourself. We want to make sure that when we launch this, people will get their driving licences in a month,” he said.
Mr Busia stated that there was also a premium service that would allow people to get their licences in two to three weeks.
“From the time you take your tests and meet all other requirements, the clock starts ticking for you,” he said.