Taxi drivers say no to AARTO

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Pretoria - Taxi operators have threatened to shut down all modes of public transport in the country if government fails to cancel the implementation of the points demerit system.

Taxi drivers in Gauteng took to the streets on Tuesday to hand over a memorandum at the Union Buildings, giving the Presidency 14 days to respond to their concerns regarding the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO).

Gauteng South African Transport and Allied Workers' Union (SATAWU) chairperson, Ephraim Mphahlele, complained that transport stakeholders were not consulted by the Transport Department on the system. He said SATAWU was concerned that AARTO would result in the massive retrenchment of employees in the sector.

"SATAWU contends that AARTO is unconstitutional and illegal as the authorities failed to consult the relevant stakeholders at NEDLAC prior to its enactment as official legislation," Mphahlele said.

However, John Motsatsing, who is responsible for regulation within the Transport Department, said the department has had a number of meetings with SATAWU in an attempt to address the issues raised by the union.

"We had a meeting on 09 November, where we agreed to form a ministerial task team to formulate terms of reference of issues raised by SATAWU," Motsatsing said.

Accepting the memorandum, Manager in the Presidency responsible for Public Liaison, Mosa Sejosengwe, assured the marchers that it would be forwarded to President Jacob Zuma.

"The transport sector plays an important role in our country's economy and I assure you that the concerns raised in the memorandum will be personally attended to by the President, who will liaise with the Transport Department and they will communicate with you in due course," said Sejosengwe.

The demonstrators demanded that AARTO be replaced by a new system and that all stakeholders would have a say in how it operated.

With the AARTO system, drivers will lose points when they commit traffic offences. All drivers have 12 merit points to start with and lose them depending on the severity of the offence.

This could eventually lead to the suspension of one's licence. However, points can also be earned through good behaviour.

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