March to protest against Aarto system fails to draw a crowd

Police and journalists outnumbered marchers at the planned protest by taxi drivers in Pretoria against the implementation of the traffic demerit system.

Police officials, metro police and journalists were seen milling around as ice cream sellers desperately tried to earn a few rands from protesters.

There were at least 35 police vehicles and several police motorcycles at the gathering point in Marabastad.

It was not clear whether the march would still proceed, or what had become of the expected 20 000 marchers.

Tshwane metro police spokesperson Alta Fourie said yesterday that drivers from across Gauteng were expected to take part in the march. Permission for the march organised by the SA Transport and Allied Workers’ Union (Satawu) had been granted.

Satawu is demanding that the government withdraw the new licensing system, saying that it will cause their members untold hardship and a loss of jobs.

Satawu is demanding that the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences Act (Aarto) legislation be repealed.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 chairman, Ephraim Mphahlele, said on Saturday the union appreciated the fact that government wanted to implement the system in an attempt to minimise road accidents.

Pretoria’s streets were almost devoid of taxis today and there were unconfirmed reports of isolated incidents of intimidation.

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