The government’s plan to roll out the demerit licence system nationally next year faces major problems.

An investigation commissioned by the Department of Transport has found that it is too risky to hand control of South Africa’s national traffic database to one of its own agencies, the Road Traffic Management Corporation.

A draft risk assessment report compiled by a leading auditing firm states that the corporation – which is meant to help co-ordinate national, provincial and local efforts to improve traffic handling – was “not yet ready to manage a system of such high-profile and national importance” as the electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis).

The eNatis database, which is used extensively for road safety and vehicle crime management, contains detailed records of all motor vehicles registered in the country, including temporary and special permits, driver’s licences, accidents and traffic violations.

The database is managed by a private company, Tasima, but the minister of transport has already told the RTMC to take over.

Once in charge of eNatis, the corporation would have to run the demerit system from 2010.

However, the auditor’s report, a copy of which has been seen by the Sunday Times, has listed no fewer than 196 risks that could jeopardise the transfer.

The database is considered “a national key-point system” — meaning it is so important that any disruption or damage to it could prejudice SA’s security

The risks include that the RTMC has neither the infra-structure to house eNatis nor the skilled staff to maintain it. There are also fears of fraud. Is not yet fully compliant with the relevant sections of the Treasury regulations and the Public Finance and Management Act.

The audit concludes that the RTMC does not have a National Control Centre (NCC) to oversee all operations. They will not only need to set up the NCC, acquire the necessary specialised skills and manage resources, but also manage sub-contractors to assist users at the branches;

*the loss of key Tasima staff due to their uncertainty regarding their future which could result in skills and knowledge not being transferred to the RTMC; and

# possible fraud that may not be consistently monitored and managed prior to and during the transfer of the contract.

It concluded that “the complexity, the training requirements and the knowledge vested in the private company, Tasima, would need to be transferred and that this should not be underestimated”.

Tasima referred queries to the department.

But RTMC board chairman Dr John Sampson insisted that his organisation could manage eNatis and said transport department staff would be offered jobs with the corporation.

Sampson confirmed that a risk assessment had been completed and was being studied to ensure that problems during the transfer would be reduced.

The corporation had “prepared itself thoroughly” and he said he was confident there would be no “negativity or risk exposure to the security and service of eNatis”.