Taxis won’t follow South Africa’s new demerit system: report

The National Taxi Association (NTA) says that it will disobey South Africa’s new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto), as well as the introduction of the country’s new demerit system.

The Aarto 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.

It will also encourage the payment of fines and reduce the burden on South African courts, by removing the initial option to elect to appear in court.

The association told The Star that the department of transport has been quiet about the introduction of the Act and that the demerit system was plagued by loose ends.

It added that the taxi industry would not comply with the new law and that the industry does not have the resources to comply with the new system, which will require it to vet its drivers.

The association said that the system was a disaster for taxi owners, who could lose their licences should their drivers receive demerits for offences on the road.

No clarity on launch yet

While transport minister Fikile Mbalula has previously committed to a 1 July start date, as of Wednesday morning (30 June) no gazette or announcement has been published by his department or other transport authorities regarding the implementation of the new rules.

In response to queries, a spokesperson from the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) said that preparations for the Aarto are still underway and that a number of issues are still being considered by the relevant authorities.

An announcement would be made either on the day or close to it – but it was not possible to provide further details at this time, he said.

Civil society and motoring groups are not happy about the lack of clarity and say that the new rules will almost certainly fail.

Outa said that the rollout has not been properly planned, there is a pending legal challenge against the system due in court in October, and the agency charged with implementation has refused to provide any information on readiness.

The group noted that the system also does not have an official start date – despite statements made by the government.

“The legislation which sets up the driver’s licence demerit system has not yet had an official start date gazetted.

“This means if it is expected to start on 1 July 2021 as Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula has previously claimed, it will be a last-minute authorisation,” it said.

“Last-minute is not the way to start such a complicated and bureaucratic process, particularly as this relies heavily on failed systems like municipalities.”

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