DURBAN - South Africa’s Department of Transport announced this week the roll-out of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act which, when combined with the new demerit system, is set to impose stricter rules on motorists.
The proposed bill has faced backlash, however, from civic organisations as well as other traffic law-enforcement agencies within the country.
The new system is said to come into effect from July 1 and will see each driver start at zero demerit points on their driver’s licence.
In the event of a driver accumulating 12 demerit points, his or her licence will be suspended for three months. The number of points incurred will depend on the nature of the traffic offence or charge.
Each licence may only be suspended twice and thereafter it will be cancelled.
The Aarto Act is also said to encourage the payment of fines and reduce the burden on South African courts by removing the initial option to elect to appear in court, according to a Businesstech report.
“It would be remiss not to mention that the roll-out is reliant on a number of outside parties. This includes the South African Post Office (SAPO) and Government Printing Works (GPW),” the department told Businesstech.
Furthermore, the department said while the target of July 1 still stood, the success of the newly promulgated system, including the demerit points, relied on various government bodies.
The bill is facing a few speed bumps, according to the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA), which said the Covid-19 pandemic and reliance on third parties could lead to administrative issues.
RTIA also said the bill could be used for monetary gain rather than enforcing road safety.
“Should this scenario be the most preferred, it will have no impact on road safety nor will it have any impact on road crashes, injuries and fatalities,” the agency said.
“The certainty on the state of readiness by all external stakeholders remains a challenge and out of the control of the RTIA,” it said in its annual performance plan for 2021/2022 published in May.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, or Outa, a Johannesburg-based NGO, also questioned the bill and said it would consider approaching the South African courts to postpone the roll-out of the act.
The group is awaiting a court hearing on the legality of the act, according to a report this week in the Afrikaans newspaper Beeld.
Outa’s arguments look at the level of power the bills give to the national government.