Legal View

High Court blow fails to keep Tasima at bay

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Government and Tasima are at loggerheads over control of the vehicle registration database system.
Government and Tasima are at loggerheads over control of the vehicle registration database system.

The extended legal dispute for government to take control of the country's vehicle registration database system will continue, as Tasima reportedly plans to challenge the latest legal order.

Yesterday, the High Court in Pretoria ordered Tasima to immediately hand over control of the Electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis) and its services to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). The company was also ordered to vacate the premises from which eNatis is operated.

In November, the Constitutional Court ruled Tasima should hand over eNatis and its services to the RTMC within 30 days. It also ruled that, unless an alternative transfer management plan is agreed to by the parties within 10 days of the order, the handover must to be conducted in terms of the migration plan.

Despite the ruling by the highest court in the land, Tasima and RTMC reportedly failed to agree on a migration plan. Tasima went on to launch an urgent application seeking direct access to the court to interpret its November judgement. The urgent application was dismissed with costs.

The ruling by the High Court yesterday marks the latest blow in the Tasima saga to keep control of the national vehicle database system.

However, Tasima has already filed court papers indicating its intention to appeal the ruling, according to Eyewitness News.

Holding tight

Tasima has been the custodian of the official register for all vehicles, driving licences, contraventions and accident data in SA for over a decade now.

The initial contract to develop and operate eNatis was awarded to Tasima in December 2001, which would expire in 2007. After a one-year extension, it was agreed that Tasima would continue operating on a monthly basis.

In May 2010, Tasima announced the transport department extended its public-private partnership by renewing its contract to manage, maintain and develop the system for another five years.

However, up until now, there has been back-and-forth litigation over the extension of contracts, the transfer management plan, as well as failure to comply with payment obligations.

Last year, the Department of Transport dismissed fears that eNatis was in danger of collapsing as a result of the legal battle.

Parliament's portfolio committee on transport has encouraged the transfer of the system from Tasima to RTMC, noting government is often held to ransom by private companies, which have been contracted to provide a service to it.

Ready for action

Meanwhile, newly-appointed transport minister Joe Maswanganyi welcomed the High Court judgement and says he is convinced RTMC is capable of taking over the eNatis system.

According to the SABC, Maswanganyi indicated that among his top priorities is to ensure the eNatis system is in full swing and that RTMC is ready to handle the system on its own.

"The RTMC has since 3 May 2015 been ready to administer eNatis. Their state of readiness has unreasonably been delayed and denied by Tasima, employing tactics informed by their desire to syphon money from the state.

"We remain resilient, undeterred and resolute in our commitment to compel Tasima to comply with the Constitutional Court decision handed down that Tasima should hand over the eNatis system."

Tasima had not commented by the time of publication.

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