Taxi union vows to disobey Aarto system
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Johannesburg - The National Taxi Alliance says it will disobey the roll-out of the Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act should it begin on Thursday.
The demerit system will penalise drivers and fleet operators who are guilty of traffic offences or infringements by imposing demerit points that could lead to the suspension or cancellation of licences, professional driving permits or operator cards.
The Aarto Amendment Act was signed into law in 2019. During his budget vote speech, Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula had announced that the system would kick in on July 1.
NTA spokesperson Theo Malele said the Department of Transport had been quiet about the act and the demerit system was plagued by loose ends.
He said the taxi industry would not comply with the new law.
Malele said the industry had no resources with which to work the system, which would require them to vet its drivers.
He said the system was a disaster for taxi owners, who could lose their licences should their drivers receive demerits for offences on the road.
“We will not recognise the system because there are shortfalls ... the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) was supposed to conduct a workshop but they will shield themselves with the Covid pandemic – why couldn’t they delay if they want to blame Covid?” Malele said.
The head of accountability at Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, Stephanie Fick also threw its support behind the taxi industry, saying the Aarto law was signed by the president but the date of commencement had not been gazetted.
Fick said the taxi industry would be well within its rights not to comply with the system should it begin on July 1.
“They must gazette this date before they can roll out Aarto. If they roll it out without it being gazetted, then the roll-out is unlawful.
“In other words, I agree that there is no way that the taxi industry can be held accountable,” Fick said.
She believed the reason President Cyril Ramaphosa had not gazetted the act was because the government was not ready to implement the kind of system that would normally work well in a developed country.
She said the Department of Transport had many made questionable decisions, including the implementation of the e-tolling system, which had also been problematic.
“Practically they are not ready; they need to reverse thus date until then. This roll-out is nationwide, the system was a flop in two municipalities.
“It cannot make sense. They should not roll it out and they must become ready,” Fick said.
She said the government should go back to basics and consider just getting more traffic officers instead of implementing systems that were bound to fail.
The RTMC referred all queries regarding Aarto to the Road Traffic Infringement Agency.
The Department of Transport was not available for comment.