Pretoria – Government plans to snag defaulters on the
Gauteng freeways using the Aarto “stick” (which is actually currently no more
than a blade of grass).
Department of transport spokesperson Tiyani Rikhotso told Sake24 the civil process to which government spokespersons had
referred in the past week by means of which defaulters would be forced to
cough up, was nothing other than the controversial Administrative Adjudication
of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act.
According to Rikhotso, the South African National Roads Agency (Sanral)
will enter into a service-level agreement with the Road Traffic Management
Corporation (RTMC) which will undertake collections through the Aarto process.
Problems with Aarto are, however, legion.
Gary Ronald of the Automobile Association points out that
Aarto is currently in force only in Johannesburg and Pretoria, while large
parts of the freeways concerned run through Ekurhuleni.
It therefore appears that Aarto could indeed expand countrywide
with a view to the toll system that comes into operation on April 30.
The RTMC was to have held a conference last year to explain
this complex piece of legislation to interested parties. But the conference is
yet to take place.
In addition, a set of new regulations intended to resolve
the problems that arose in the trial runs in Johannesburg and Pretoria have
lain on the desk of Transport Minister Sibusiso Ndebele for months. It's
unclear why the minister has not signed them or referred them back.
Despite assurances by the RTMC, there is widespread
scepticism about the ability of the traffic authorities to implement Aarto.
Furthermore, the RTMC’s own affairs are chaotic and its ability to execute only
the extra work for Sanral is seriously in doubt.
In the Johannesburg and Pretoria trial runs only a small
part of Aarto was tested. No case has yet come to court and no one's property
has been confiscated to pay outstanding fines - as government this week
threatened would happen to dodgers.
Moreover, Western Cape Minister of Transport Robin Carlisle
bluntly said that if necessary he would go to court to prevent Aarto being
implemented in the Western Cape before all the problems had been ironed out.
Ronald said that if Aarto was expanded, it would have to be
without the demerit system. It would be unconstitutional for people in Gauteng
to lose their driver’s licences because of traffic violations while people in
other provinces did not, he said.
He said Aarto problems were not that serious for
individuals, but operator and vehicle violations cause great problems for
businesses with their own fleets.
Ronald said he could not see Aarto coming into force countrywide
before the end of this year.
At the request of Sake24, the public protector is undertaking
an investigation into all Aarto issues.
For more business news in Afrikaans, go to Sake24.com.