NO DEMERIT SYSTEM YET: Almost 20-years after it was said to be implemented, the South African driver demerit system has still not been rolled out. Image: iStock
Johannesburg - The South African driver Demerit System has taken years to be implemented, yet the Department of Transport system said back in 2015 that it could be given the greenlight early in 2016.
As of July 2016, the system is yet to be implemented... it shouldn't surprise road users as it first appeared 18 years ago!
Wheels24 contacted the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offenders (Aarto) and was told that while the system will be implemented "when Aarto rolls out nationally", the department, however, could not confirm when this would be.
National roll-out still on the cards?
The RTIA said in a statement: "The Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA) acknowledges with concern the delays in the finalisation of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Bill of 2015.
"Indeed the amount of time the country has taken preparing for the introduction of the point demerit system as a response to delinquent and unsavory motorist behavior leading to high road tolls is a cause for concern. Thus RTIA is encouraged by the amount of civic society and stakeholder debates which continue to bring this matter at the center of country’s agenda for addressing road high rates of road deaths and injuries plaguing the country’s roads.
"It is however important to report that RTIA and the Department of Transport are embarking on widespread and extensive consultation processes which are necessary steps towards ensuring that enough buy-in and awareness is obtained from all affected stakeholders which will be impacted by the National Roll-Out of AARTO."
Justice Project SA responds
The Justice Project of South Africa (JPSA) and the Automobile Association (AA) weighed-in:
JPSA: "Following the questions posed by Wheels24 and the Automobile Association (AA) of South Africa regarding the national rollout of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act, 46 of 1998, justice Project South Africa (JPSA) also wishes to weigh in on the subject.
SA Demerit System: All you need to know
"JPSA has supported the idea of the implementation of a points-demerit system in South Africa from the onset and is also highly supportive of the decriminalisation of minor road traffic infringements, as well as the properly defined procedures and timeframes which the AARTO Act introduces.
"We have noted that, subsequent to the Deputy Minister of Transport announcing last year that the Aarto Act would be rolled out nationally from April 1 2016, this has not happened and the Minister of Transport has, in her budget speech before Parliament on May 10 2016, appealed to the Portfolio Committee to expedite the processing of Aarto Amendment Bill, 2015 before Parliament.
"It is not clear to us what makes the promulgation of the AARTO Amendment Bill, 2015 essential to the national rollout of AARTO while the current version of the Act is regarded to be good enough for the Cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane.
"While IT systems play a significant role in the Aarto system, practically ALL of the difficulties which have been experienced with respect to the so-called “pilot implementation” of the Aarto Act in the Cities of Johannesburg and Tshwane since it was promulgated to be in force from July 1 2008 in Tshwane and November 1 2008 in Johannesburg; have arisen out of ineptitude and/or unwillingness of the authorities to abide by the provisions of the Act.
"No 'pilot' of anything should have taken eight years to still not find a way to a national roll out and the endless false starts which have typified this implementation have not assisted anyone."
Read JPSA's original press release here.
The AA responds
The AA said: "We believe the time has come for hard decisions on the future of Aarto to be made. Our concern is that almost two decades after it was first proposed, no significant steps forward have been taken towards final implementation of the demerit system. We therefore call on the Department of Transport to give South Africans a firm and concrete date for the implementation of Aarto, and to stick to it. Their credibility, and that of the system as a whole, is now at stake.
“As much as we want to see the RTIA, and the Aarto system, succeed and go ahead, this state of inactivity on Aarto's implementation is serving no purpose. We therefore urge the Department of Transport to take significant steps to ensure the system is implemented, or concede to the public that it probably will never materialise.
"Road safety remains one of the key challenges our government faces, and any dithering on the implementation of a critical resource such as Aarto cannot be entertained."
Read the AA's original response here.
Update on the bill
In November 2015, Cabinet approved the introduction of Aarto. The Bill amends the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act, 1998 (Act 46 of 1998).
Currently the Bill is being consulted with Parliament Portfolio Committee on Transport. Some of the proposed provisions of the Bill will have implications on other areas which include "rehabilitation of road infringers as well as capacitation of the traffic authorities to effectively administer the legislation. Added to some of the imperatives is the expeditious adjudication over the traffic offences."
According to the Agency’s Registrar, Japh Chuwe, said:"The RTIA will continue to monitor the consultation processes as they are conducted by Parliament. Furthermore, the Agency calls upon all stakeholders to participate in the public participation process while implementing other road safety measures to reduce deaths on our roads."
Chuwe urges members of the public to participate in the public hearings which will be convened by Parliament in due course.