JOHANNESBURG – JPSA has today (Friday 29 January 2016) been alerted that the deadline for submissions on the draft AARTO Regulations amendments published for public comment in government gazette 39482 on 7 December 2015 which closed on 7 January 2016 has allegedly been extended to Tuesday 2 February 2016.
According to DA Shadow Minister for Transport, Mannie de Freitas, this was revealed to him in a letter from Minister Dipuo Peters dated Sunday 24 January 2016. JPSA knows of no formal announcements made by the Department or the Minister of Transport extending this deadline and the SA Government website still quotes the closing date for submissions as 7 January 2016.
If this is true, and we have no reason to believe that it is not, it is bizarre that the public was not notified soon after the 7th of January, since finding out about it now, just 4 days before it re-closes is going to have a limited effect.
The draft AARTO Regulations amendments contemplated in that gazette deal in the main with provisions relating to e-tolls. The non-payment of tolls is not new under AARTO and has always been contemplated in the AARTO Act, which “decriminalises” this infringement, and this has repeatedly been pointed out by JPSA while SANRAL and the Department of Transport was threatening people with criminal records for non-payment of e-tolls in the two years preceding this gazette.
JPSA submitted its submission on this gazette on 29 December 2015 and has raised issues of the unlawfulness of the draft Regulations, which contravene other provisions of the AARTO Act. While we welcome the opportunity for others to submit their comments on these draft Regulations, we have to ask why it is that it has apparently been deemed appropriate to fail to inform the public of the extension of the closing date for comments.
Surely if the Department and Minister of Transport were genuine in seeking inputs from the public, it would not have apparently hidden its intention to extend the closing date for comments? We have grown tired of the ambush tactics which have been adopted around the entire e-tolling issue and find it contemptuous of all concerned to continue to employ such tactics.