Word is that following Minister of Public Enterprises, Jeff Radebe’s appointment to caretake the transport hot seat during Dullah Omar’s leave of absence due to ill health, there will be a change of political perspective in the transport ministry.
The acting minister’s task will not be easy and he will have to counter the flak relating to the National Department of Transport’s (NDOT) non-performance in a number of critical areas. During his tenure, it seems likely that the much-delayed Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act of 1998 (AARTO) legislation, will get the green light.
Following a meeting with the NDOT in early Feburary, transport consultant, Alta Swanepoel confirms that “September 2003 is looking good.”
AARTO has long been a priority on the Southern African Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association’s (SAVRALA) agenda and in October 2002, the association’s legal sub-committee reported that assurances made by the NDOT and the Provincial Chief Traffic Officers to involve them to a greater degree in the final stages of the pending legislation, had not been met. Meetings scheduled for early 2003 have also since been cancelled on three occasions.
One well-documented concern voiced by SAVRALA relates to certain of the regulations and provisions of the Act that would make it difficult for rental and leasing companies to operate large fleets driven by multiple drivers and still comply with the legislation.
“The problem is that these companies are the licensed owners of their vehicles and, as it stands, the legislation has not allowed for this,” says Swanepoel.
With over six million vehicles on SA roads, she said rental and leasing fleets represented a very small percentage and government was unlikely to review the legislation to accommodate them at this late stage. “A third Amendment to the Act was approved by Parliament last November and is on Thabo Mbeki’s table awaiting signature,” continued Swanepoel. “All the basic principles, however, remain the same, only minor administrative changes have been made.”
The next step would be the issuing of a Proclamation, which, once signed off, would result in the appointment of a registrar and the formation of the agency. Thereafter, a six month pilot programme would still be implemented in the Pretoria area and legislation up to and including Section 23 of the Act would be enforced. This falls just short of the tough Points Demerit System legislation contained in Section 24.
Swanepoel is confident that the six month trial of the legislation and testing of computer systems and technologies would provide a good case study. “Thereafter, a countrywide roll-out should take about 18 months.”
SAVRALA president, John Broadway, once again urges association members to prepare themselves. “AARTO is no longer on the legislative back-burner and we must ensure that we are up to speed with the demands facing us.”