A new National Traffic Information System (Natis), dubbed eNatis, was commissioned on April 13 in Midrand by the Department of Transport (DoT).

The previous system was over 14 years old and its technical limitations were becoming increasingly evident.

eNatis uses advanced technology that will be compatible with a variety of anticipated system enhancements. The DoT is looking to improve the traffic information system to cater for enhanced law- enforcement capabilities and to reduce the need for physical visits to traffic departments through the introduction of Internet transactions and the use of automated teller machines (ATMs).

The system will also allow for the introduction of the administrative adjudication of road traffic offences system and the online registration of vehicles by financial institutions. Further, it will provide a new module that will manage driving licence and learner’s licence bookings on an online real-time basis.

eNatis serves as a national register that stores, records, manages and enforces the requirements of the National Road Act and the National Road Traffic Regulations. It acts as a vital resource for the Road Traffic Management Corporation and road traffic infringement agencies, and will ensure that all violations are centralised within the eNatis database to provide improved service in terms of the payment of fines, for example.

In the case of stolen vehicles, eNatis will serve as a law-enforcement tool, ensuring that the vehicle’s details are circulated and that irregular and fraudulent reregistration is prevented.

A functionality of eNatis that did not feature in the previous system is a new driving licence booking system. The system will validate examiners, testing centres and appointments and prevent corrupt officials from abusing the licensing process.

A statement from the department says that eNatis will now have functionality to control all face-value documents. Future enhancements will also incorporate strict electronic tagging of docu- ments to eliminate the falsification of vehicle licences, registration certi-ficates and driving licence cards.

Spokesperson for the DoT Ntau Letebele notes that the primary objectives are to move away from the frustration of long queues and to reduce the need for physical visits to DoT offices. The process of booking a learner’s or driver’s licence test will be made easier through an online system.

Physical transactions at DoT sites will be further limited as the public is able to pay fines at ATMs. The current system is encumbered by over eight-million vehicles and the new eNatis will manage these numbers more conveniently and effectively.

In the build-up to the commissioning of the new system, the DoT emphasised the impor-tance of avoiding a disruption in service delivery and preventing inconvenience to the public. It also met with key stakeholders, including vehicle manufacturers and importers, vehicle testing station operators, financial institutions and provincial representatives, and introduced them to eNatis.

On March 12, the eNatis functionality was tested across the country with the first national dry run.

The previous system was shut down on April 5 and the data was copied and delivered to the eNatis data centre in Midrand.