The Automobile Association (AA) welcomes the suspension of 70 officials at six vehicle testing centres in Gauteng for corruption. This is an important development in making roads safer in South Africa.
“Many problems associated with road safety begin and end at the licencing centres. Various administrations in the transport department have expressed concern about rampant corruption at these centres, which puts incompetent and dangerous drivers on our roads, as well as unsafe, un-roadworthy vehicles. For us this is an encouraging, and long-overdue, first step in dealing with these problems,” the AA noted.
This move comes after Transport Minister Dipuo Peters announced earlier this month that the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) would conduct an audit of the centres to determine the level of corruption in the issuing of drivers’ licences and roadworthy certificates.
“The developments in Johannesburg are, we hope, just the beginning. We need the RTMC to act in the same way at licence testing facilities across the country, and do so quickly, in the interests of better road safety,” the Association said.
It said that the outcomes of such an audit should be the retraining of staff, the removal of corrupt staff, stronger and more robust systems put in place, and a move towards a more efficient handling of driver tests and roadworthy checks.
“People who have bought their driving licences or roadworthy certificates also need to be aware that the law may be coming after them. Incompetent drivers, and un-roadworthy vehicles, are major contributors to deaths on our roads and the licensing staff are only part of that problem. Citizens who are buying these documents are also complicit in criminality and must be dealt with,” the AA noted.
For a long time now the AA has said South Africa has many licensed drivers, but that not enough of them are competent drivers. With 500-thousand licences being issued annually, almost 2000 daily, according to the RTMC, it is important that a better understanding of how many of these are fraudulent begins to emerge.
“If the RTMC is to follow the Johannesburg Metro’s lead with its audit, it will be able to provide citizens a clearer picture of how many ‘un-roadworthy’ drivers we have on our roads endangering the lives of motorists who have obtained their permits the proper way. The findings of this audit are therefore an essential first step in dealing with the annual road carnage,” the AA said.
But, the Association warned, this audit cannot be delayed any longer.