Johannesburg - The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse says the proposed changes to the AARTO law are impractical, irrational and legally flawed.
Outa portfolio manager for transport Rudie Heyneke said: “If the AARTO Amendment Bill is passed in its present form, Outa will legally challenge it; because we want to see workable law.
“The amended bill is less about road safety and more about generating revenue through a complicated and administratively unworkable system.”
The organisation is concerned that the bills provision for using unpaid e-tolls to prevent motorists renewing their driver’s licence will lead to people driving without a licence.
“We’ve seen this movie before with the e-toll scheme,” Reyneke said. “When the government runs roughshod over meaningful public engagement and ignores input from the major role players, the scheme inevitably falls apart.”
These are the organisation’s big problems with the proposed amendments:
The bill makes not paying e-tolls a traffic offence by making it the same as disobeying a road sign.
That means every unpaid e-toll charge can be regarded as a traffic infringement and result in a demerit point for each gantry pass.
"A motorist who uses the GFIP freeway frequently could collect than 12 demerit points within a couple of days," Heyneke said, "and have his licence suspended and ultimately cancelled, because he won't be able to ‘work off’ that many demerit points - it's a cheap shot to bully motorists into paying e-tolls.”
It's intended to move serving notifications of fines to electronic format.
That's not practical," insisted Heyneke. "There may be millions of drivers in Gauteng who aren't online, so they'll have to go back to serving fines at physical addresses.”
All demerit point notices will still have to be delivered by registered mail.
The cost will be enormous, and it makes nonsense of the key reason for the amendment in the first place.
The bill gives the Road Traffic Infringement Agency and the minister of transport the sole power to approve RTIA salaries and benefits.
“Without any oversight," said Heyneke, "that's a recipe for financial irregularities and a bloated bureaucracy.”
Heyneke also questioned the financial sustainabilty of the RTIA.
ts operational budget will be generated from the fines and administration fees it collects, which means that it needs motorists to break the law for it to survive - in direct contradiction to the Bill’s stated purpose of improving road safety.
In addition, he pointed out a number of other problems with the bill, including notice periods, fees, legal uncertainty over the tribunal which must adjudicate thousands of representations and the conflicts arising from those representations, and the fact that you'll have to pay a fee to contest a fine - which you won't get back even if you win.
“We want this law to be workable," said Heyneke, "we want it to be practical, unchallengeable and, most important, to improve road safety.”