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Is oversight being overlooked in favour of profit?

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Is oversight being overlooked in favour of profit? Every year the Department of Transport generates a huge surplus, but does this translate into better services and facilities for those who fund it?

 

On March 26, the Transport Portfolio Committee had quite an interesting discussion. All about making money and consultants – the folks that know and do, for those that don’t.

Not that there is anything wrong with making money, if you’re in business. Government, on the other hand, should be spending money – our tax money to be precise – and spending it wisely.

It may interest you to know that profiteering through revenue generation has been officially sanctioned. What this means is that the motorist/vehicle owner can be ripped off without a conscience. Two issues fall under discussion here – driving licences and that horrible R36 “transaction fee” on eNaTIS.

According to the Department of Transport (DoT) there are about seven million drivers in South Africa. Just over two million need new licence cards every year. That translates to a profit of R124 million per year. Just like that.

The eNaTIS picture is very different. That R36 contribution one makes when renewing a driving licence, a certificate of fitness (COF)/certificate of roadworthiness (COR), getting a learner's licence or any duplicate documents – anything to do with either the vehicle or driver – generates serious revenue.

Quoting from the minutes of the Portfolio Committee meeting, “Mr Dan Pretorius, acting chief financial officer, DoT said that the eNaTIS programme generated R600 million per year.

 “Mr Pretorius said that 1,8 million cards were issued per year, and this included new licences. The income was currently R135 million per year. The DoT was currently building up the surplus, with the intention of replacing the live capture units. All the money was, therefore, going back to the entity to renew equipment and improve services at testing centres”.

The thing is, service delivery at the driver testing centres is well below par and, while supported by the National Department of Transport, these centres are run either by the province or local authority. A serious disconnect here.

Are eNaTIS and the driving licence service providers acting as consultants to government or are they thinly disguised trading entities of the DoT? I would love to see the contracts.

All this begs a further question – why are we paying so much extra and where is the money being spent? Those are the questions that the oversight committee needs answers to, rather than accepting this form of income generation as business as usual. It could be that this income is viewed as an ancillary tax, but if that is the case, it should then be spent to benefit the contributors, not so?

I can think of quite a few roads that need fixing and a little issue called road safety intervention that needs a few bob too – R200 million a year would do nicely.

 


SKID MARKS is a regular column in which Gary Ronald presents his personal and sometimes jaundiced view on transport, safety and mobility. Ronald has a wealth of experience in these fields has presented numerous papers both locally and internationally. He’s been with the AA since 2000 and is currently its head of public affairs. All comments published here reflect his own opinion, and not that of the AA. FOCUS appreciates his witty, topical and sometimes irreverent stance on the industry. If you’d like to respond to whatever punches he throws, visit www.focusontransport.co.za.

 

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