Government to keep control of eNatis

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The Constitutional Court delivers a judgement in favour of RTMC to manage eNatis.
The Constitutional Court delivers a judgement in favour of RTMC to manage eNatis.

The tug-of-war regarding who gets to manage the national vehicle registration database system has been laid to rest, following the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) decision this week to dismiss an application to appeal against the judgement to hand over the system.

Last year, former transport minister Joe Maswanganyi revealed that gaining control of eNatis would save government about R30 million per month.

The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), an entity of the Department of Transport, has long been embroiled in a legal battle with Tasima over the transfer of the Electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis) and related services.

eNatis is the official register for all vehicles, driving licences, contraventions and accident data in SA, and was originally contracted to be managed by Tasima.

Despite the ConCourt's ruling that eNatis must be transferred and managed by the transport department, through RTMC, Tasima lodged an appeal against the judgement in an attempt to hold on to the system.

In a unanimous judgement, the highest court in the land established it was not in the interest of justice to hear Tasima's appeal. The court ordered the company to pay the legal costs involved in the matter.

Highly contentious

The initial five-year contract to develop and operate eNatis was awarded to Tasima in December 2001. Over the years, 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.

In November 2016, the ConCourt ruled Tasima should hand over eNatis and its services to the RTMC within 30 days.

A dispute arose between Tasima and the RTMC as to the time-frame within which Tasima was required to handover the eNatis system and its accessories following the 2016 ConCourt ruling that declared the five-year extension of the contract granted to Tasima to operate the eNatis system to be invalid.

Tasima was ordered to hand over the eNatis system to the RTMC within 30 days but the company held on to the system beyond the period until it was ordered by the North Gauteng High Court to vacate the eNatis system premises with immediate effect in April 2017.

After the court judgement, the RTMC seized control of the premises where the national vehicle registration database system is operated and ordered Tasima to vacate the operational offices.

Tasima was looking to the ConCourt to hear its appeal case, but this application was dismissed.

Government wins

In a statement, the RTMC welcomed the decision by the ConCourt, noting it marks an end to lengthy litigation process between the companies.

"This judgement represents a major victory for government and confirms our long-held view that the eNatis system should be controlled by government and not private contractors," says RTMC CEO Makhosini Msibi.

"We're pleased with this outcome as it will save the government millions of monies that it will have paid to a private company to deliver services that government is capable of delivering. We are proud that the system has functioned smoothly since we took over in April 2017," he adds.

Msibi also thanked the RTMC shareholder committee, board of directors, management, staff and stakeholders for their support throughout the court battle.

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