/ 16 November 2010

Santaco won’t join strike against demerit system

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) said on Tuesday its members would not be joining taxi drivers marching to the Union Buildings in protest against the implementation of government’s new traffic demerit system.

“At the moment, while Santaco equally holds concerns regarding the implementation of the AARTO [Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act], it is not a part of the strike … ,” Santaco spokesperson Philip Taaibosch said.

He said that Santaco would engage in a separate process to raise and address the concerns of the taxi industry regarding AARTO.

Taaibosch said in a statement that Santaco was however, neither negative nor affirmative on the South African Transport and Allied Workers’ Union’s (Satawu) protest regarding the AARTO system.

The Tshwane Metro Police were expecting almost 20 000 minibus taxi drivers to march on Tuesday in protest against the implementation of the AARTO system.

Spokesperson Alta Fourie said on Monday drivers from around Gauteng were expected to take part in the march.

Satawu is demanding that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (AARTO) legislation be repealed.

The system penalises drivers with demerit points for traffic offences. Once a driver has 12 demerit points, his or her driver’s licence gets suspended for three months. A driver’s licence gets cancelled on the third suspension.

Satawu’s Gauteng chairperson Ephraim Mphahlele said on Saturday the union appreciated the fact that government wanted to implement the system in an attempt to minimise road accidents.

However, Mphahlele said AARTO would threaten the jobs of Satawu members by suspending and nullifying driving licenses.

“To this end, tens of thousands of Satawu members and many more workers who rely on driving licenses to eke out a living, let alone for financially supporting their respective families, are destined to be dealt a fatal blow, whenever their respective licenses are suspended or withdrawn.”

Other interventions
The union said instead of implementing AARTO, the government could use other interventions to minimise road accidents including more visible traffic policing on major roads and at accident hot-spots.

It also suggested the installation of traffic lights were more accidents occur and criminalising reckless driving to alleviate the problem.

The union called on the ANC, its alliance partners the South African Communist Party, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and other organisations to join it in its campaign against the system.

The campaign would start in Gauteng and then go to other provinces.

“This will culminate in a national transport shutdown,” said Mphahlele.

The system was currently being used on a trial basis in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

Protesters are expected to start gathering at 7am at the corners of Struben and Cowie Streets in Pretoria city centre and from there will march to the Union Buildings. The march is expected to start at 9.00am.

The following streets will be closed:

  • Struben Street between DF Malan Drive and Cowie Street;
  • Vermeulen Street between Beatrix and Church Street; and
  • Edmond Street between Government Lane and Vermeulen Street.

Fourie said all the other intersections would only be sealed off when marchers crossed the respective intersection.