Cape Town - The controversial Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) bill is one step closer to becoming law.
On Tuesday, Parliament’s transport portfolio committee approved the amendments that were made by the National Council of Provinces. The bill will now go to the National Assembly where it will be debated. The approval comes amid a backlash from the DA that the bill in its current form violates the Constitution.
DA MP Chris Hunsinger said: “We have some concerns surrounding the constitutionality of the amendments. We are in favour of the bill and we see the urgency of getting some revived form of regulations on our roads. But in its current form, we have concerns.”
The bill consists of a set of laws and regulations that were tabled by the Road Traffic Infringement Agency, which aims to improve road safety by implementing stringent protocols that stand to hold motorists accountable for traffic violations.
The Aarto Bill was tabled in 2015, and was passed by an overwhelming majority in the National Assembly in September 2017.
Despite the government’s claims that the introduction of the amended Aarto Act will make South African roads safer, local civil right groups maintain that the new road laws will do little to curb traffic violations.
Some of the proposals in the bill involve the removal of legal challenges relating to traffic fines.
The delivery process of fines and notices is also set to change under the amendment, and a demerit proposal is set to have a huge impact on the owners of transport companies.
Hunsinger said that motorists would not have a fair opportunity to appeal at a special appeals tribunal.
“The fact is that your opportunity for an appeal or review is only right at the end of the process.
“This is a very one-sided process,” he said.
State law adviser Mongameli Kweta disputed Hunsinger’s view, saying that the legislation was in line with the Constitution.
“There is nothing unconstitutional about this bill. I do not support that view because it has gone through the correct process,” Kweta said.
The chairperson of the portfolio committee, Dikeledi Magadzi, said: “We have adopted the report which actually is indicating the DA questioning the constitutionality of the bill, but the bill has gone through the correct process and we have agreed to the proposed amendment.”
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) was also present at the briefing on Tuesday, and raised concerns that the bill paves the way for corruption and seeks to accommodate Sanral’s e-toll collections.
“We once again request that the president and his advisers take a good look at the bill, as well as the submissions from the public, before signing off on a bill that will have a detrimental impact on our economy,” said Rudie Heyneke, Outa’s portfolio manager for Transport.
“The Aarto Amendment Bill is as unworkable as the irrational e-tolls scheme, and we will do everything in our power to protect the constitutional rights of road users.”@MarvinCharles17