What a pleasant experience

On Wednesday 8 February, I accompanied my son to the Florida Licensing Dept to apply for a motorcycle learner’s license. Needless to say, I anticipated the usual, long queues, disorganisation, pestering from driving school totters and photographers, and other ‘middlemen’, offering services from jumping the queue, to getting licences without having to undergo any tests; for payment of course.

On arriving at the station, it was apparent that there was a positive change in the operations there. The photography caravans were not there. I was not pestered by ‘middlemen’, nor was the ever-present driving school advertisers present. The surroundings were clean, the queue orderly and the building spotlessly clean inside. It was as if the place had been ‘sanitised’.

I decided to undertake an impromptu oversight inspection of the facility; as is my mandate as a Member of the Gauteng Provincial Legislature. I started off by enquiring from an official where I could find the manager’s office. Noticeable was the fact that every one of the officials was wearing name tags – something, in my experience, never seen in the past.

Even before identifying myself, I was received into the office of the station manager, Terry Msimanga, with respect. His office was orderly and clean. It was obvious that he is respected by his staff by the manner in which they approached this busy man who made time to meet me (still not knowing who I was or what my purpose was). What was even more encouraging was that he treated his staff with mutual respect.

After I had identified myself and my intention to exercise on oversight function, his attitude remained professional and friendly. We discussed the challenges he faces and how we could address these together in an effort to improve services at this testing station. He has been at this station since early December and has already identified many problems which hindered services here. Those he could fix, he fixed within weeks. The morale of his staff has improved. He is a true leader and career public servant.

We found that we have much in common. Both of us had served as Traffic Offices in the Johannesburg Traffic Department – he two years after I had left. He then went to the Traffic Department in Sandton. This was before the unicity was formed in 1995. He later left the Traffic Department and took up employment in the Licensing Department, where he has served ever since. He serves on a number of government bodies dealing with traffic law enforcement and licensing matters.

What is clear is that Terry has great plans for the Florida Licensing and Testing Station. He has embarked upon a search for council-owned property within Florida, big enough to build bigger offices, as he has identified the fact that this facility has become inadequate to deal with the number of clients it receives each day.

He has opened the station to function on Saturdays from 7.30am to 12.30pm, in order to accommodate clients who are employed and cannot afford to lose a day’s salary or leave.

I left the station within an hour as my son’s business was concluded and he needed to get to work. What a pleasant experience. Terry Msimanga, you are an asset to the City of Johannesburg.

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