It is an indictment of a system on the brink of collapse. And this time, it comes from the people tasked with running it.
Several leaked documents relating to the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act show that over the past two years, only about one out of 10 motorists paid their fines in Johannesburg and Pretoria. This has amounted to R2.1 billion in unpaid fines during that period.
DA leader in the City of Joburg Mmusi Maimane said on Wednesday: “That R2 billion would go a long way in a city like Johannesburg.”
The documents were released to the media on Wednesday by the DA, which revealed that it had received them from a source.
The Aarto working group report states: “One of the most glaring problems faced in the current Aarto jurisdictional area is the extremely low payment rate of penalties and fees by infringers.”
The report said 89.54 percent of fines were unpaid in the 2011/12 financial year.
This year, unpaid fines were at 87.46 percent, and even incentives hadn’t worked.
“It appears as if the 50 percent discount which is applicable to payments made within 32 days from the date a notice is served, is completely ignored by infringers - they just simply prefer not to pay at all,” the report adds.
Maimane said: “It also shows that traffic law enforcement on roads in our big cities in Gauteng is on the brink of collapse.”
He said e-tolls would fail as they used the same eNatis database as Aarto did, adding that some data in the system was incorrect, which would make it difficult to issue tolling bills.
Aarto is being piloted in Johannesburg and Tshwane areas.
The Road Traffic Infringement Agency said the government had, on numerous occasions, noted that the implementation of Aarto had revealed challenges, in particular the non-payment of fines. It blamed this on motorists not receiving notices because addresses in the system were incorrect.
It went on to say challenges experienced in Aarto’s implementation were being addressed in preparation for a national rollout.
In July 2012 the Johannesburg metropolitan police department stopped sending out courtesy letters to inform traffic offenders that they had a fine, because there were no funds.
Only 2.5 percent of enforcement letters, which are issued if the traffic offender does not respond to the courtesy letter, were served in the 2012/13 year.
The three documents do suggest solutions, including taking a short-term loan so that courtesy and enforcement orders can be issued.
The SA National Roads Agency responded by saying e-toll collection would not be governed by the Aarto Act but by the Criminal Procedure Act. - The Star