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RAF needs fixing

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Rabs also proposes that compensation will be given to all accident victims, irrespective of who was at fault in an accident

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THE public hearings on the Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill (Rabs) currently taking place around the country have proved, once again, that in its current form the Road Accident Fund (RAF) has failed to serve the needs of accident victims.

The primary objective of the public hearings is to give members of the public the opportunity to give input on the radical changes proposed to the RAF payment process.

However, instead of speaking on the proposed amendments, the majority of those who attended the hearings in KwaZulu-Natal wanted to be assisted with their claims.

Parliament’s transport committee even brought RAF officials to the hearings to attend to the inquiries.

Red tape, incompetent officials, corruption practices and greedy lawyers have continued to dominate what is essentially excellent legislation aimed at compensating accident victims.

In terms of the proposed changes, payments will be made directly to claimants on a monthly basis, and not a lump sum as previously administered. This also goes for the payment of medical and healthcare providers.

Rabs also proposes that compensation will be given to all accident victims, irrespective of who was at fault in an accident.

All these proposals are very progressive, and would go a long way towards eliminating the challenges facing the RAF.

However, an opportunity to comment on this process has been missed because of the problems facing the fund.

It is high time that the government demonstrates political will to address the shortcomings facing the RAF. It must be remembered that the fund is facing tremendous pressure at the moment, with the public questioning its continued existence following a series of petrol price increases in the last four months.

Rudie Heyneke, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse’s transport portfolio manager, gave us something to think about when he revealed that in the last 10 years or so there has been a 300% increase in the RAF fuel levy.

The writing is on the wall that the public’s patience with the fund is wearing thin.

People are not prepared to keep paying more in fuel levies when they are not getting value for money.

People are demanding a functioning, well-organised RAF that is free of corruption and can tackle the R160billion backlog in unpaid claims.

Anything less than that will not be good enough to justify increasing the fuel levy to unacceptable levels.