AARTO faces another legal challenge from OUTA
OUTA is not convinced that authorities are ready to implement the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Act.
OUTA, which is also challenging the constitutionality of AARTO, has now lodged a request for information in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) against the Road Traffic Infringement Agency (RTIA). RTIA oversees implementation of AARTO.
“Apart from the issue of constitutionality, we are of the opinion that AARTO (and the Amendment Act) is not practically feasible, and that it will be almost impossible for all the different government roleplayers and issuing authorities – including municipalities – to implement it,” says Brendan Slade, legal project manager at OUTA.
OUTA has previously engaged with the RTIA, which confirmed that due process has been followed to put all municipalities in a position to implement AARTO. The municipalities are issuing authorities, and will issue AARTO infringement notices to motorists. According to OUTA, this readiness should include training on the legal implications, upskilling of municipal staff as well as training and compliance measures to ensure that the municipalities’ debt collection procedures are on par with AARTO requirements.
“With most municipalities’ track records, it is not unreasonable to conclude that they are not up for the task – not to mention the problematic eNatis system,” says Slade. The eNatis system is the traffic system database, which holds details of vehicles and motorists. Slade adds that the recent suspension of the RTIA’s Registrar, Japh Chuwe, following findings of maladministration by the Auditor-General of South Africa, gives OUTA more reason to believe that the RTIA failed to follow due process when it comes AARTO.
OUTA submitted a request for access to information to the RTIA, specifically requesting documentation relating to the process followed by the RTIA to ensure that the major metropolitan municipalities are “AARTO-ready”.
However, the RTIA refused the request, arguing – amongst other things – that the documents OUTA requested are confidential and may reveal the trade secrets of third parties.
On 16 March 2021, OUTA approached the Pretoria High Court to compel the RTIA to disclose the requested documentation, as OUTA believes that this is in the public interest.
“If the information confirms that the RTIA has failed to follow due process, it will enforce our stance that the parties responsible for implementing AARTO are in fact not ‘AARTO-ready’, rendering AARTO completely ineffective," says Slade.
More information on OUTA's work on AARTO is here.