Plans are under way to deploy SA’s criticised traffic database, the Electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis), in other SADC countries.
eNatis developer and operator Tasima says this follows the successful introduction and adoption of the system in SA.
The rollout of the traffic management system to other countries is subject to inter-governmental negotiations, ITWeb reports.
It will modernise the management of vehicle and driver registration and licensing details, and sharply reduce the incidence of cross-border vehicle theft, says Tasima.
However, the eNatis system has come under heavy criticism in the past. The traffic system had a troubled start when it first got off the ground in 2007. The service has since had a bad reputation, with downtime at licensing centres blamed on the solution.
At a cursory level, eNatis is SA’s national source of road-traffic-related information.
Tasima says there is a strong argument for the system to be implemented across the 14-nation SADC region.
Progress is already being made to introduce the system in Namibia and Lesotho, with Mozambique and Botswana also in the early stages of considering eNatis, says Tasima CEO Tebogo Mphuti.
He adds that due to the critical security aspects embedded in the system, it would be important for Tasima to be involved in implementing eNatis in other SADC countries.
“Based on our experience over the past few years in South Africa, we firmly believe that eNatis would sharply reduce cross-border theft of vehicles in the SADC region, and also provide member countries with a state-of-the-art vehicle and driver registration and licensing system.”
By using eNatis in multiple countries, the status of a motor vehicle in the origin country can be verified before it is registered in the destined country, explains the CEO.
The status may also be verified if the owner is travelling through the country on holiday. For example, the police in Namibia may be able to verify the status of a South African motor vehicle en-route to Angola. The same applies to driving licences.
“With this facility, a motor vehicle stolen in one country cannot be registered in another country, or such vehicle will be identified by the local police,” adds Mphuti.
Democratic Alliance shadow minister of transport Stuart Farrow says the move by Tasima does have merit in terms of tracking stolen vehicles across borders.
However, he says the concern is that the eNatis database as it stands within SA, still needs enhancements, especially for the upcoming Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (Aarto) Act.
“There is far greater importance around making the system work for Aarto, instead of migrating it into the greater SADC region. We can’t implement a system of demerit when we can’t even track down where a person lives using the system. That is the big problem.”
Farrow also says Tasima has not yet physically handed over the eNatis system to the Department of Transport, and it costs about R100 million every year for the company to keep operating the database, making this transfer a great priority.
Another concern highlighted by the shadow minister is the security implications and the fact that more users have access to the system and information.
“I don’t know that I want someone in Zimbabwe to know where I live and what car I drive. So I have severe apprehensions. We need to secure the database for our use before we start rollout to other countries.”
Mphuti believes that as with SA, the rollout of eNatis throughout the SADC region would enable these countries to add further layers of functionality to the system at a later stage.
“This could lead to the monitoring of driver behaviour and vehicle roadworthiness – as is being considered in South Africa – in years to come.”
He says there is currently electronic monitoring of over nine million vehicles and over six million drivers through eNatis. It also provides the police, banks, insurance companies and local authorities with 24/7, 365-day access to the system.
“It took five years to build, develop and implement the system in South Africa, and we have now had four years of operational experience, opening the way for eNatis to be adopted in other countries,” notes Mphuti.
“Systems such as eNatis can play a major role in strengthening administrative service delivery, improving law enforcement, and stimulating economic growth and development in the SADC region.”