Even by the standards of bureaucratic double-speak, the comments this week by the CEO of the Road Traffic Infringement Agency, Thabo Tsholetsane, about punishments for failing to pay e-tolls, were unintelligible.
Tsholetsane said the government did not intend to assign demerit points under the proposed Administration Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) bill for failing to pay e-tolls.
However, drivers and even owners of commercial or public service vehicles will be penalised for not adhering to road signs. These are the road signs which direct motorists to pay tolls.
Confused? Who isn’t?
Drivers of commercial and public service vehicles could find their driving licences cancelled after accumulating the maximum of 12 demerit points in one trip, because it is an offence carrying a one-point demerit to ignore a road (toll) sign.
In the event that the owner of a truck, for example, fails to nominate the actual driver responsible for the offence within 32 days, then those points will accumulate for that owner, who could lose his or her licence.
To us, it is plain this is another attempt to intimidate motorists into paying e-tolls, which have been an abject failure in Gauteng. However, it is more than that, because the terms of the Aarto bill include worrying clauses which remove some basic human rights from motorists; the most important of which is the ability to argue their cases in a court of law.
The country’s 700 traffic courts will be replaced, it is said, by a nine-person tribunal… something which is ludicrous… unless you believe the objective is to deprive people of justice.
Given the fact that there are already effective ways to enforce road traffic laws, and that there are better ways to pay for roads than e-tolls, we suggest that both of these disastrous concepts be consigned to the dustbin of history.