Pretoria - The Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto) could bring the South African road freight business to a grinding halt because large numbers of drivers might receive demerit points for any number of minor transgressions – and their driving licences, as well as the businesses' operator licences, could eventually be suspended.
This would do huge harm to the economy, says Gavin Kelly, technical and operations manager of the Road Freight Association (RFA), in response to the announcement that Aarto will no longer come into force in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Ekurhuleni on July 1 or be implemented in the rest of the country from November 1.
Eric Cornelius, chief executive of the Southern Africa Bus Operators Association (Saboa), agrees that every driver would lose his driving licence under Aarto, because it applies to such a wide range of transgressions.
Saboa has already appealed for only serious transgressions to deserve demerit points, but it has received no response from Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).
On Wednesday Collins Letsoalo, the acting chief executive of the RTMC, which is to administer the legislation, announced that the date on which it comes into force has been postponed, but that the act with its demerit system will certainly be implemented countrywide by April 1 2011.
But Kelly doubts whether Aarto's deficiencies can be corrected before then. The RFA is pleased that it has been postponed, but if would be better to postpone it indefinitely.
He says the RTMC apparently does not care that so many drivers might lose their licences, and has no understanding of the road freight industry.
Kelly also says there is no acceptable system for motorists and transport companies to quickly check how many demerit points they have earned.
Further, the RFA has requested details of the Aarto trial runs in Pretoria and Johannesburg, but has received nothing from the RTMC.
Cornelius also welcomed the postponement, but said that even the reprieve to April 1 will be too little as the RTMC will drag its feet and wait for legislative amendments.
He hopes that the problems existing within the RTMC, whose board was dissolved after allegations of fraud and mismanagement, will receive attention.
Since the chief executive, Ran-thoko Rakgoale, was suspended in February he has not returned to office.
Cornelius says these problems cannot be viewed in isolation.
Val van den Bergh, general manager of the South African Vehicle Rental & Leasing Association (Savrala), says Savrala welcomes the postponement.
She says two separate systems currently need to be followed because Aarto has already been in force in Pretoria and Johannesburg, but not in the rest of the country.
This is not an ideal situation.
Nevertheless the period of grace will offer Savrala an opportunity to develop the system in terms of which its members can effect these reissues electronically direct on eNatis.
If the RTMC makes the recommended changes to the regulations in time, the system could be ready by September or October
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