Legal View

Aarto money squandered

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Transport minister Sibusiso Ndebele has ordered an investigation into corruption allegations at the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), and instructed the company to pay over all monies collected as eNatis transaction fees.

The minister has also stopped the salaries of several top officials, as concerns have been raised that the money, which is meant to be used for the new point demerit system, is not being allocated correctly.

Ndebele is also attempting to fast-track the investigation to avoid delays in the implementation of the problematic Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) system expected later this year.

He has appointed an independent task team to investigate the allegations of mismanagement and to look at the mandate, leadership, governance, business and finance of the RTMC.

The task team is expected to report back to the minister periodically, and the final report is expected within a month. The department says Ndebele will only make a decision when he has studied the report and its recommendations.

In an effort to meet the deadline for the national roll-out of the point demerit system for motorists, Ndebele says changes will be implemented “where necessary and feasible in the shortest possible timeframe”.

The RTMC is tasked with the roll-out and facilitation of the Aarto. The company has piloted the new point demerit system in the Tshwane and Johannesburg Metropolitan areas, and is preparing to implement it nationally later this year.

When the Aarto demerit point system is implemented, the demerits will reflect against the driving licences of infringing motorists on the National Contravention Register (NCR), on eNatis. The RTMC also announced it would spend over R300 million on IT and marketing for the new demerit system for motorists.

“The Department of Transport has adopted a zero tolerance stance when it comes to fraud, corruption and mismanagement. We remain committed to the reform and tightening of the regulatory regime,” says Ndebele.

Down the drain

The department notes that the investigation is a result of several complaints of mismanagement and corruption which Ndebele received.

Democratic Alliance transport spokesperson Stuart Farrow says the minister's decision and the results of an independent audit on the company reveal it has mismanaged funds meant for major systems.

“Together with the admonition from the Department of Transport and the findings in the audit report, this once again provides clear and undisputable grounds that the CEO and other senior officials of the RTMC mismanaged eNatis transaction fees - money intended for the improvement of SA's licence testing systems and for the introduction of the Aarto system,” says Farrow.

Transaction fees received from all annual motor vehicle licensing transactions are supposed to be used to finance the maintaining and updating of road traffic records and information, according to the RTMC Act and National Treasury regulations.

The company was supposed to use the funds to enhance current traffic information registers and to introduce new registers such as the Aarto register, computerised learners licence register, and to create and maintain an NCR, which combines provincial registers for accidents and contraventions.

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