The Auditor-General (AG) Report into KwaZulu-Natal’s Department of Transport – tabled during a Scopa meeting on Monday – has revealed horrific discrepancies within the province’s Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI), with traffic infringements not captured since 2019.
The situation has been attributed to the Department’s change to a new OPUS traffic management system. According to the RTI’s Accounting Officer, the Department reported R465 million in revenue. However, the AG believes that this was understated by R157 million.
The RTI previously operated under the Trafman system but moved to the OPUS system in May 2020. The move was aimed at ensuring that traffic infringements were captured more efficiently. At the time that the Opus system went live, there was a declaration by all RTI station commanders confirming their commitment to the project.
It is now evident that these were just hollow pledges since the very individuals responsible for ensuring traffic infringements were properly recorded are clearly disinterested. This despite the fact that this is a revenue-based project and – most importantly – that it would also mean more law-abiding drivers on our province’s roads.
What we now have is a situation where the Department has not captured traffic offences for some two years while its Heads of the Departments (HODs) were fast asleep.
Remedial action has only recently been recommended by the AG. However, at this stage it remains very uncertain as to whether any of the traffic fines will reach the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA).
To make matters worse, the RTI terminated its contracts with summons servers in April 2019. This after it employed individuals who did not have vehicles, making it impossible to deliver any summons to traffic infringers in time.
To add salt to the wound, the Department is currently piloting the Aarto demerit system in KZN and the questions must be asked – how are road users going to be correctly fined? And how can citizens be confident that proper processes are being implemented to ensure that they are not disadvantaged by those enforcing the law?
RTI requires strong leadership with a firm hand in order to ensure that law enforcers are not derailing a project designed to keep road users in line. Instead, what we have is a weak and failing Department.
The DA calls on KZN Transport MEC, Peggy Nkonyeni, to act urgently on this issue – particularly in light of the upcoming peak holiday season. This debacle has shown very clearly why KZN continues to see an increase in road accidents and lawless drivers.
We will be following this matter closely to ensure that remedial actions, as stated by the AG, are fully implemented and are not rolled over for another financial year. The safety of KZN’s road users depends on action being taken without delay.