JOHANNESBURG – On 2 March 2011 JPSA sent out a media release stating that the national implementation of AARTO has again been delayed and this was shortly thereafter denied by the Department of Transport, who claimed that the statements made in this release were “untrue”. Later, DoT spokesman, Logan Maistry also allegedly accused JPSA Chairman, Howard Dembovsky of being “mischievous” when speaking to a journalist.

Mr Maistry’s release set out by saying “The Department of Transport wishes to confirm that media reports stating that the “national rollout of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Act and the long awaited commencement of the points-demerit system that goes with it, which was supposed to happen on or by 1 April 2011 has again been delayed…,” are untrue.” and attributed these reports to JPSA Chairman, Howard Dembovsky, despite the fact that a pre-existing media report on AARTO’s delay appeared on IT Web on 1 March 2011, on which neither JPSA nor Howard Dembovsky had any input whatsoever and Mr Maistry was well aware of this fact.

In a radio debate on SAfm on Saturday morning 5 March 2011, RTMC spokesman Basil Nkhwashu repeatedly stated that AARTO will be rolled out by the end of THIS financial year.

The government’s financial year runs from 1 April to 31 March of any given year, therefore Mr Nkhwashu is implying that AARTO is now on track to come into force nationally by no later than in 24 days’ time, on 31 March 2011. It does not matter what he meant, it only matters what he has said.

In stark contrast, an article by IT Web on 4 March 2011 has quoted acting CEO of the RTMC, Collins Letsoalo as saying that “AARTO has learned from the e-tolling” debacle that arose recently and he has stated that “an implementation date [for AARTO] has not yet been set, because there needs to be public consultation and engagement with stakeholders first.”

This poses a direct contradiction to his and the Minister of Transport’s statements to the effect that comprehensive consultation and engagement with stakeholders had already repeatedly taken place over the years when they dismissed SATAWU’s objections over AARTO in June 2010.

Mr Letsoalo has also repeatedly stated that AARTO will be rolled out by 31 March 2011, countrywide before changing his tune a short while ago.

In its media release effectively calling JPSA and Dembovsky liars, the Department of Transport also failed to answer any of the issues over the grossly unlawful implementation of AARTO by the JMPD and the TMPD/RTMC that has been occurring since 1 June 2010 with their full knowledge.

Responding to this matter on radio, Mr Nkhwashu has stated that dealing with these matters is subject to an “administrative process” by the RTIA, yet JPSA can prove that the RTIA refers such matters directly back to the JMPD instead of dealing with them as they should.

 

JPSA also questions why it is that the RTMC and RTIA have not embarked on a nationwide concerted media campaign to make people aware of the fact that these infringement notices are unlawful and can be cancelled or alternatively caused them to be cancelled themselves, given the fact that they are aware of which notices are unlawful and which are not. The mere postage costs to make representation will easily amount to a staggering R69,350,000 out of the public’s pockets if every unlawful infringement notice sent by the JMPD alone to date were to be represented in this manner and by registered post as legislated.

The question of the constitutionality of this issue must also be raised since by far, those who are aware of the fact that such notices are unlawful are greatly outnumbered by those who are not and unequal advantage is being applied to those who have internet access and can visit www.aarto.co.za, the website run by JPSA on AARTO which openly and honestly informs members of the public with respect to AARTO matters. A podcast of the SAfm debate is also available there.

Like it or not and call it “held-off” instead of “delayed” as Collins Letsoalo did on 4 March 2011, the fact still remains that the national rollout of AARTO has been delayed repeatedly.

In response to where members of the public could get more information, Mr Nkhwashu sidestepped the issue of the RTMC’s telephone lines and “official AARTO websites” not being operable by giving out his email address, basiln@rtmc.co.za as the only means of contact for the public.

To listen to the podcast of a mini-debate on SAfm on Saturday 5 March, click here.

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Please see the following for context:

 

o   http://www.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=41589:aarto-delayed-again&catid=118

o   http://www.aartofacts.co.za/news/post/2011/03/02/AARTO-a-no-go-at-least-as-far-as-the-points-go.aspx

o   http://www.fin24.com/Economy/South-Africa/Aarto-not-delayed-again-dept-20110302-2

o   http://www.aartofacts.co.za/news/post/2011/03/02/AARTO-not-delayed-Transport-Department.aspx

o   http://www.itweb.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=41681:aarto-learns-from-etolling&catid=118,

 

I urge you to please visit www.aartosa.co.za and www.aarto.gov.za right now to see what is displayed on those sites as from last week. This time, JPSA has absolutely nothing to do with it.