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Aarto roped in to tackle defaulters

Feb 26 2012 16:18 Antoinette Slabbert

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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.

 - Sake24

For more business news in Afrikaans, go to Sake24.com.

 
aarto  |  rtmc  |  sanral  |  tolls  |  roads
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