Transport Minister Sbu Ndebele has questioned taxi drivers’ opposition to the new traffic legislation.
“If one does not habitually violate traffic laws, one needs not worry,” Ndebele said in a statement on Thursday.
He said he did not see why he should hold more consultations about the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) traffic legislation with the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu).
Ndebele was responding to Satawu’s argument, which, in his words, were: “Aarto is a top-down punitive approach which has not been properly consulted.”
The minister said: “Consultations were held with all stakeholders in the legislative process. The questions are: Why the need for more consultations 12 years after the fact?
“What is Satawu telling us about their members? That they are bad drivers who do not adhere to traffic laws? I hope not!”
Taxi drivers in Pretoria staged a protest march earlier this month against the introduction of Aarto, which would include a demerit system under which motorists would be penalised or lose their driver’s licences after a certain number of traffic offences.
Ndebele said the government owed it to South Africans to try and decrease road deaths.
“What about the 14 000 people that we lose on our roads on an annual basis, some of them being Satawu members?” he asked.
“Surely, the answer cannot be that we failed to ensure that those who are bad drivers lose their privileges to drive at the expense of their kins’ right to life.”
Aarto has not yet come into effect, but pilot projects have been running in several cities. – Sapa