June 21, 2010
The City of Cape Town and the Cape Provincial government will approach the Western Cape High Court this week in an urgent bid to delay the local implementation of a new road traffic offences system.
The new Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) system was scheduled for implementation on July 1 but local authorities have tried in vain to have the date postponed through discussions with the national government.
A month ago mayoral member for safety and security JP Smith and MEC for transport Robin Carlisle were still hoping that the government and the Road Traffic Management Corporation would postpone the implementation without the need for legal action.
Carlisle said a series of meetings between those involved had indicated that these authorities recognised that Aarto, more commonly known as "the demerit system", was not ready.
"There is a lot of work to be done legally and administratively before it can be implemented," Carlisle told the Cape Argus at the time.
Aarto has been beset by problems in Johannesburg and Tshwane, where it has already been implemented, and last February millions of rands of traffic fines were scrapped because of a legal loophole.
But while local authorities had hoped that Transport Minister S'bu Ndebele would withdraw the proclaimed implementation date, due next week, they say there has been no response from the state on the matter.
"We have concluded discussions with our lawyers and have sent a letter to the president, Jacob Zuma, and the transport minister, asking them to give an answer by 4pm today," Smith said on Friday
Aarto has been beset by problems in Johannesburg.
He said two previous items of correspondence had not been answered and confirmed yesterday that there had also been no response to last week's last-ditch bid to avoid going the legal route.
Local authorities would therefore proceed this week in applying for an urgent interdict to set aside the proclaimed implementation date, as well as declaring in inter-governmental dispute, Smith said.
The city and province were able to "readily demonstrate" that the RTMC and Ndebele had not complied with their own implementation plan, Smith said.
"Very demonstrably, the things that need to be in place for Aarto to work effectively are a long way off."
NO RESPONSE FROM CHUWE
While media reports suggested that new dates for implementation had been set, RTMC spokeswoman Thandi Moya said on Friday that she did not know where such information had come from.
She referred all Aarto queries to the dedicated Aarto spokesman, Japh Chuwe, who did not respond to several requests for comment.
In a statement to the news media on Friday, the RTMC called on drivers to "know and understand the fundamental stages of the Aarto process", "in keeping with the national rollout plan".
The "demerit" part of the system, which could ultimately see serial traffic offenders lose their driving licences, is currently scheduled to be implemented nationally on April 1, 2011.
An interesting date! - Ed.