Outa rejects Aarto demerit system over difficulties for motorists

Pretoria – The Pretoria taxi industry and the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) have rejected the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act demerit system expected to kick in on July 1.

The reasons the controversial new system would make life difficult for motorists, the two stakeholders said, included corruption and that infringement notices sent in various electronic ways could not confirm delivery.

The demerit system was recently gazetted by Minister of Transport, Fikile Mbalula, who also announced that R500 million had been budgeted for the roll-out by the department.

The system meant that every driver would start at zero demerit points on their driving licence, but if 12 points were accumulated, the driving licence would be suspended for three months.

On the other hand, it would reward good driving by subtracting points, up to -12.

However, the executive director of accountability at Outa, Stefanie Fick, said the organisation was taking the government to court on October 18 and 19 to have the entire act scrapped for two reasons.

She said the act was unconstitutional because it did not respect the separation of powers, and was taking away the powers of local governments like Tshwane to regulate themselves.

“This means that now people or motorists can’t be tried in court for whatever they are accused of doing,” she said. Fick said that second to that was the fact that the service provision of the new act was unconstitutional in the sense that infringement notices could just be sent to people through electronic communication means like email.

“How could they be sure that a person has indeed received that notice? Our emails receive thousands of messages, and some are blocked as spam,” she said.

Fick added that the government could not claim that these loopholes had not been raised because organisations in the transport industry had attended public participation processes and highlighted their concerns, but they were not listened to.

McDonald Makata, who speaks for the taxi industry in Pretoria, said their biggest concerns were corruption and the “ridiculous administration it would present for both the industry and the department”.

He said: “The problem is that when they do these public consultations they only listen to their comrades, and not the majority of the people who will be directly affected. This will just present an opportunity for corrupt traffic officials to collect monies somehow because nobody will want to lose their licence.

“This will be a bribes’ heaven for these officials.”

Road Traffic Infringement Agency spokesperson Monde Mkalipi said the demerit system sought to encourage and ensure responsible driving on the part of motorists, and to reduce road deaths.

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