One good TRN deserves another

In order to purchase a car in South Africa, one must apply for a Traffic Register Number.  Today, at last, I was able to acquire mine!  “But hold on,” you say, “didn’t you already buy a car?”  That’s right, I bought a car the week of Christmas.  I have been driving around with temporary tags.  They expire on January 10th.  I applied for the TRN on December 9th, but I had received no update for how matters had proceeded (the application triggers a background search, so it’s not a sure-fire outcome).

My day started with a call from Cathrine at the Honda dealership.  She explained that we really couldn’t wait anymore for the TRN to show up and that they’d need a couple days after I had my TRN number to file for and receive the registration plates.  I had placed a call to the Bellville Traffic Department, but I had gotten a busy signal (normally I hear several rings and then the call fails).  She recommended a number for services city-wide, and I spoke to a courteous gentleman there.  He admitted he could find no record of my application for the TRN.  There was no other option: I needed to visit the Traffic Department in person.

I drove over there.  As is common in South Africa, the parking lot had several parking attendants to wave in the direction of available spaces.  I entered the building and joined the line of fifteen people at the Inquiries window (the same one where I had applied for the TRN on December 9th).  After about forty minutes, I was waved up to the window, where the clerk was the same person I had worked with during my prior visit!  Our discussion was a little hard to follow, since a gentleman at the next window was slowly raising his voice to a yell in Afrikaans about a parking ticket for his motorbike that was more expensive than the vehicle (which apparently would no longer start).  My clerk indicated that he had good news, but I needed to stand aside for a few minutes until the other clerk was free.

Once the gentleman had issued his final proclamations (I gather they were obscene, by the response of the security officer), I moved to the other window.  The clerk handed me my TRN.  I explained that I now had proof of my permanent address, and she advised me to take it up with the Durbanville office since I was moving closer to them.  I took the TRN in hand and drove to the Honda dealership.  Cathrine and I looked over the application for the registration plates, and after I botched one she just pointed to where I needed to sign.  This afternoon, we realized that I also needed to file a change of address form with the Traffic Department since my TRN was for my temporary address rather than my permanent one.

In two days, I should have my permanent registration plates.  With those in hand, I can file for parking privileges on campus (much less expensive than at American medical schools).  Getting my car sorted out is nearly complete!


One thought on “One good TRN deserves another

  1. Greg Wernke

    The Chinese may have invented Bureaucracy, but the British colonial service perfected it.

    Good luck David my friend I will miss not having you in the same city – Greg



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