The Democratic Alliance (DA) notes with concern an announcement by KwaZulu-Natal’s (KZN) Department of Transport (DoT) that it will soon begin rolling out the Aarto system within five of the province’s municipalities.
According to the Department, the pilot project will be implemented within the eThekwini, Msunduzi, uMhlathuze, Newcastle, Ray Nkonyeni, Alfred Duma and KwaDukuza municipalities.
Aarto is a demerit system that will penalise drivers found guilty of traffic offences or any other road-related infringements. Demerit points could lead to a suspension or cancellation of licences, operator cards or professional driving permits.
All drivers start with zero points. When the point limit is exceeded, a motorist’s driver’s licence will be suspended for three months. If the person drives with a suspended licence, they could be fined or imprisoned. Once a motorist’s driver’s licence is suspended three times, they will have to start all over again – by getting a new learner’s licence
The DA welcomes any initiative aimed at encouraging safe driving on our roads, which will in turn reduce accidents. There have already been far too many innocent lives lost on our roads and Aarto is a start in dealing with this carnage.
However, it is clear that MEC Peggy Nkonyeni and her Department, in their haste to look good, have not thought this through properly and the question remains: how can they possibly begin implementing Aarto when there is still such a vehicle and drivers licence backlog?
Licensing has been a problem in KZN for several years, which has only increased as a result of Covid-19, yet the Department does not seem to be able to provide solutions. At this point, KZN’s Driver Licence Training Centres (DLTC’S) are unable to cope and are either closing their doors due to positive Covid-19 cases or are simply unable to attend to the massive queues.
Not only has this caused immense frustration to KZN’s road users, it has also led to more and more law-abiding citizens driving without the relevant licences.
The DA has long called for the implementation of an online renewal system for vehicle and drivers licences in an attempt to alleviate the situation. Yet, to date, such a system remains in the pipeline.
We will be addressing this matter again with MEC Nkonyeni and will put pressure on her and her Department to fast-track this system as a matter of extreme urgency.
If Aarto is to have any chance of success in our province – and reduce the number of fatalities on our roads – then the DoT must first focus on addressing licencing backlogs. If this is not done, the system is doomed to fail.