Unanswered questions remain as AARTO comes into effect

The Act is meant to come into effect on Thursday, bringing with it a demerit system that will penalise drivers for breaking the law. But there's been no communication about what changes to or how exactly the law will be implemented.

Minister of Transport Fikile Mbalula released the 2020 festive season statistics on 22 January 2021. Picture: @MbalulaFikile/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - Western Cape Transport MEC Daylin Mitchell has written to Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula to raise concerns regarding the readiness of the Road Traffic Infringement Authority to implement the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act.

The Act is meant to come into effect on Thursday, bringing with it a demerit system that will penalise drivers for breaking the law.

But there's been no communication about what changes to or how exactly the law will be implemented. Mitchell said his department was strongly supportive of a points demerit system to improve driver behaviour and remained keen to implement any effective measure that would reduce road traffic injuries.

“I am concerned that we have been severely hindered in our ability to plan meaningfully for the announced rollout of the Act, in particular with regards to training of our traffic officers,” he said.

Mitchell said this was as a result of the fact that the applicable regulations had not been finalised.

“This effectively makes it impossible for the department to be in a systematic manner for the rollout. We cannot develop a real world start date for implementation without the regulations being finalised,” Mitchell added.

Activist group, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said the new traffic laws officially enacted on Thursday were likely to fail.

Outa said while measures to improve road safety and reduce fatalities were urgently needed, it believed the Act would not achieve this as it was rolled out in Gauteng 10 years ago and failed spectacularly.

Outa's Advocate Stephanie Fick said the legislation, which sets up the system, had not yet had an official start date gazetted, which meant if it's implemented on Thursday as previously confirmed by Mblalula, it would be a last-minute authorisation.

“Last minute is not the way to start such a complicated process, particularly as this relies heavily on failed systems,” she said.

Fick said authorities weren't ready for this, and it was subject to a Constitutional Court challenge that's due to be heard in October this year.

On this basis, Outa asked the minister responsible for implementing AARTO Act to hold off on the rollout. But said to date, no response had been received.

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