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More than 50 000 Durban drivers have taken advantage of the city’s amnesty period, paying 100 000 traffic fines and putting about R20 million into the city’s coffers.
Despite the errant motorists paying their fines in three months, a whopping R1.4 billion is still outstanding.
Metro police spokesman Senior Superintendent Eugene Msomi said 54 934 drivers had paid 111 418 fines.
He said R19 907 143 had been paid since the incentive was implemented in December.
“We thought more drivers would have taken advantage of it seeing that it’s the last one before the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act is implemented,” he said.
The third and final amnesty allows for drivers to get a 50 percent reduction for fines incurred before December 1.
In a further enticement, the council is offering a discount to drivers who pay their fines within 30 days of being issued.
Both initiatives will remain in place until the long-awaited implementation of the point demerit system is introduced in the city.
Msomi said he did not know when the Aarto system would be implemented, but any fines that remained unpaid after its implementation would still be recoverable, with defaulters facing being issued with warrants of arrest.
Unlike the first amnesty period in 2008, when drivers had to settle all their outstanding fines at once, Msomi said drivers would be able to pay off their tickets in a staggered manner.
More than R100 million was collected during the first amnesty period, and a further R73 million was recovered during the second amnesty in 2011.
“The amnesty has been running for more than three months and not even half of the amount has been recovered. I don’t know whether drivers realise what a huge incentive this is.”
Msomi said the city’s top traffic offenders were minibus taxi drivers, with the biggest culprit having racked up more than 500 fines for speeding, overloading and ignoring red traffic lights.
The top 30 minibus taxi offenders together owe the city more than R4 million.
Bafana Mhlongo, the general secretary of the KwaZulu-Natal Transport Alliance, said the alliance would convene a meeting on Tuesday at which representatives from the transport department and the municipality would address drivers and owners about the amnesty.
“We’re aware of the amnesty and that some of our members have paid their fines, but we want more of them to take advantage of this opportunity.
“It’s no secret that the taxi industry has a bad reputation and we’re trying to put an end to that. If law enforcement officials are willing to work with us, then we should meet them halfway,” he said.
Gary Ronald, of the AA, said because the country had a history of low compliance when it came to paying fines, any initiative to get people to pay was a welcome one.
Other drivers have in the past expressed their displeasure at the amnesty, saying the incentives created the mindset among wayward drivers to only pay their fines during the amnesty period. - Independent on Saturday