Pay fines – or else

More than 36 000 road users with outstanding warrants of arrest in Nelson Mandela Bay will be blocked from renewing their driver’s licences from April 2.

As part of its revenue-collection efforts, the municipality will implement the Electronic National Administration Traffic Information System (eNatis) block-A programme, which blocks road users with outstanding fines from accessing the city’s traffic services.

The metro is trying to collect R28-million in fines owed by 36 100 residents.

This emerged at a safety and security portfolio committee meeting on Friday.

Committee chairman John Best said it was all systems go for the programme.

This comes after the national Transport Department backtracked on the decision to implement the eNatis programme in the metro last year.

Best said they had finally been given the go-ahead after making presentations to the Road Traffic Management Corporation.

“If you have a warrant outstanding, then you cannot go and renew your driver’s licence until you pay your fine,” he said.

“My plea to everybody is that you pay your outstanding warrants and fines immediately.

“The reason why we have lawlessness on our roads is because we are writing the tickets, but there is no recourse.

“People aren’t paying – and we found out that 60% of the cases were withdrawn in the courts.”

Best said that since appointing a director for traffic and licensing, the metro had seen a decline in the number of cases withdrawn and an increase in prosecutions.

“We can fine drivers [for failing to stop at] stop streets and red [traffic] lights, and taxis pulling passengers in and pushing them out in the middle of the road, and we are fining them,” Best said.

ANC councillor Andile Mfunda said that the action would upset residents.

“We previously suggested that we take this to public participation because I am worried that residents won’t be happy about this,” he said.

“It is all well to try and collect more revenue, but motorists need to be made aware – otherwise we will have a situation similar to when residents found out their electricity meters could be blocked [for non-payment].”

Traffic and licensing director Warren Prins said he had initially been concerned by the high rate of cases being withdrawn by the courts. However, this issue had since improved. “The withdrawal rate is dropping due to the interrogation of the courts by the department,” Prins said.

He said he would table a detailed report in the next portfolio committee meeting with the actual numbers and the revenue enhancement strategy plan.

Safety and security executive director Advocate Keith Meyer said they could now pinpoint exactly which magistrates ruled on which traffic-related cases.

“We now know exactly which prosecutor is withdrawing how many cases a month and, subsequently, there are meetings to deal with this. As a result, there is definitely a reduction [in the number of cases being withdrawn],” he said.

Automobile Association of South Africa spokesman Layton Beard said he would only comment on the system once he had seen the plans the metro wanted to implement.

“We would appeal to all motorists to obey the rules of the road,” he said.

“If people get a fine, they must own up and pay that fine.”

Best said: “The national traffic department just wanted an operation and implementation plan from us, which we have done, and in all likelihood it looks as though we are going to implement it on April 2.

“I have been fighting this for the past 18 months. I want to congratulate the director of traffic that he has eventually hit the nail on the head.”

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