Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Transport accepted the final amendments on the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Bill on Tuesday 12 February 2019. The bill will now go to the National Assembly for concurrence and will then be ready to be signed into law by President Ramaphosa.
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA), together with several stakeholders in the transport industry, taxi associations and various political parties has opposed the Amendment Bill from the introduction of the Bill in the National Assembly on 1 December 2015 by the Minister of Transport. OUTA submitted comprehensive comments to the parliamentary committee on the Bill, however, some of OUTA’s key criticisms were not factored into the amended version.
OUTA attended several public hearings held by legislators in different provinces over the last year on this issue. Despite calls from the public, civil society and stakeholders from the transport industry that certain sections of the Bill are unconstitutional the ruling party used its majority in the Portfolio Committee on Transport to accept the Bill.
“It will be interesting to see if the President will sign the AARTO Amendment Bill into law before the national and provincial elections on 8 May 2019 as it may sway votes,” said OUTA’s Transport Portfolio Manager, Rudie Heyneke.
The demerit point system was heavily criticized by the transport and fleet industries, who will stand the chance of losing their drivers licences which will negatively impact SA’s already high unemployment rate.
In addition to public outrage on the amendments, metro officials from TMPD and JMPD along with fleet owners and taxi associations supported OUTA’s stance that the Bill should promote road safety rather than focusing on creating revenue.
“We once again request that the President and his advisors take a good look at the Bill as well as the submissions from the public before signing off on a Bill that will have a detrimental impact on our economy,” added Heyneke. “The AARTO Amendment Bill is as unworkable as the irrational e-tolls scheme and we will do everything in our power to protect the constitutional rights of road users”.