MASERU — Thousands of people are battling to register and re-register vehicles because the traffic department is yet to replace the system which was destroyed when a fire broke out at the department’s head office in Maseru.
A National Transport Information System (Natis) server, containing information on all cars registered in Lesotho, was destroyed when a fire broke out at one of the department’s offices on December 11.
Computers for the Integrated Financial Management System, the government’s financial management system, were also destroyed in the fire that police suspect was started by an accountant who they say wanted to destroy incriminating evidence of alleged fraud.
The department is now struggling to deal with the backlog of unregistered cars that was created when the system was down.
The problems have been worsened by the fact that the department is yet to acquire a new information server and cars have to be registered manually.
The department says because the registration is being done manually the process will take longer because they have to verify some information before they approve a vehicle for registration or registration renewal.
In the meantime long queues of desperate vehicle owners continue to form at the department’s offices in Maseru every morning.
A woman who spoke to the Lesotho Times on Tuesday said she had arrived at the department at 8am but was only served late in the afternoon.
“The queues are very long and the service is slow. They are taking a long time to help one person,” the woman said.
“They need more people because the current staff does not seem to be coping with the situation,” she said.
Most affected are Basotho who work in South Africa but have their cars registered in Lesotho.
The transport sector has also been seriously affected.
So have individuals who want to register their vehicles.
The chief transport inspector, Rabele Mokiti, said there was no way the department could speed up the service delivery because they are using the manual system to register vehicles.
“We are now registering the cars manually so that affects service delivery as we need to verify things before we renew the disc,” Mokiti said.
“The problem is that people come on the day when their disc has expired. If they came earlier the situation would be much better for us,” he said.
He said they had made a public announcement on radios asking people to come a month before their vehicle registrations expire but people ignored these calls.
He said Natis gives a grace period of 21 days after the disc has expired but the Road Traffic Act does not have a grace period.
However, Mokiti said, the law will soon be amended to allow people 21 days grace period.
The department’s official who is alleged to have started the fire has since been charged with arson together with two other suspects.
They are currently out on M500 bail each.