eNatis 'no bed of roses'

By Leon Engelbrecht, ITWeb senior writer
Johannesburg, 02 May 2007

The Department of Transport is calling for public patience with its electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis).

"People must understand the transition from the old to new could not be a bed of roses," spokesman Collen Msibi says. "Let's be patient. There will be problems here and there but we are sending our technicians to deal with them."

Msibi says the department and staff at the country's testing stations are doing their best to clear up the backlog. He says when eNatis launched it took, on average, three minutes to register a new car. Now that personnel are more familiar with the system and various bugs have been worked out, the average time is one minute.

His comments come as motorists complain they are being fined for expired car and driver licences, which they cannot renew, despite queuing from as early as 5am outside testing centres.

Johannesburg metro police spokesman chief superintendent Wayne Minnaar said police would continue to fine people and complainants loathe to pay up can argue their cases in traffic court.

Johan Vorster, CEO of eNatis developer Tasima, says the system is still showing "very high transaction" volumes.

This indicates it may still be working through the backlog caused by the shutdown of Natis earlier this month and the initial slowness of eNatis after being activated on 13 April, he notes. However, he has no clear picture of what backlog still exists. Msibi avoided answering the question. Vorster says eNatis has now handled 3.5 million transactions since switch-on.

Meanwhile, the Business Report says the Retail Motor Industry Organisation (RMI), which represents about 7 800 motoring businesses, has written a scathing letter to transport minister Jeff Radebe.

The letter, written by RMI CE Jeff Osborne, says transactions "of vehicles and equipment totalling more than R1.5 billion cannot be completed as no vehicle licensing documents can be obtained for submission to financial institutions". It adds that "many businesses are at a standstill and unable to trade".

The minister is further told that franchised dealers are suffering "heavy costs" because they are defaulting on contracts to deliver vehicles to customers due to delays at registration offices. Some car body-builders are "facing closure due to payments being withheld, since vehicles they have built cannot be registered".

He adds the delays caused by eNatis have become a major threat to the entire motor industry, retail and wholesale. "If this matter is not resolved, it is likely to result in significant levels of business closures," he says. "We appeal to you, the minister, ultimately responsible for all transport-related matters, to draw on all resources at your disposal to resolve the impasse as a matter of extreme urgency."

Related stories:
eNatis pulls through
eNatis beefed up
Govt, developer defend eNatis
Technical hiccups hit eNatis
Govt upgrades Natis