Motorists caught talking on their cellphones while driving in Nelson Mandela Bay could be slapped with a R1 500 fine and have their phones confiscated.
The municipality wants to follow in the footsteps of the City of Cape Town, where any driver caught using a cellphone has it confiscated for 24 hours and then only released at a price.
At a safety and security committee meeting yesterday, chairman John Best said the proposed by-law would have to go through a public participation process and then be approved by the council.
It is likely to be introduced in the next financial year.
The municipality also wants to implement a system whereby motorists with outstanding warrants of arrest for unpaid fines would not be able to renew their vehicle licences.
The e-Natis soft block system, which is used in other metros, also has to be approved by the council.
From Monday, traffic officers would launch an operation to execute the top 40 warrants of arrest from a total of 52 081 offending motorists with outstanding warrants, the committee heard.
It is hoped the operation will recover close to R33-million owed in traffic fines.
“If you have an outstanding warrant of arrest, we are making an appeal to go and have those paid,” Best said after the meeting.
But ANC councillor in the committee Andile Mfunda expressed concern. “I want to propose that we have a power point presentation, where we can obtain clarity and then apply our minds.”
He raised concern about the wording in the law that regulates the issuing of licence discs.
DA member in the committee Gustav Rautenbach said: “The DA is in full support of this but also remains concerned about regulation (7) because it says ‘the registering authority may refuse to issue a licence disc’ – we want to change that ‘it may’ to ‘it must’.”
He said the DA was concerned about lawlessness on metro roads.
Best said he had also asked the chief magistrate to drastically increase fines for disregarding red traffic lights from R1 000 to R2 000.
If approved, fines for failing to stop at a stop sign would also be increased from R1 000 to R1 500.
“As soon as the magistrate signs off this application, which could be next week, it will be effective immediately,” Best said.