The Transport Department is threatening to sue the contractor "as a last resort", if the company fails to sort out the chaos in the eNatis traffic information system. The department says the Tasima consortium delivering the system has called in its creators to tackle the problem. Meanwhile confusion reigns over the legal position of motorists unable to renew their licences because of eNatis crashes and slowdowns.

The Cape Town Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry called for a moratorium on prosecutions relating to drivers or vehicles being driven on expired licences until the system was working properly. But although the Transport Department pledged to cancel any fines incurred by those driving with expired licences, Metro Police spokesman Kevin Maxwell warned they still risk charges. He said motorists whose licences had expired during the eNatis crisis would still be "technically" unlicensed.

The Tasima consortium, which won the R408 million eNatis contract in 2001, is scheduled to hand over the operation to the department at the end of this month. But Tasima may have to work beyond the deadline to fix technical glitches that created confusion and long queues at licensing centres.

Transport Minister Jeff Radebe - who apologised for the problems yesterday - and his director- general, Mpumi Mpofu, seemed confident that the crisis would be over soon.

But they did not rule out the possibility of taking Tasima to court as a last resort if the problems continued after the handover to the Road Traffic Management Corporation, a department agency.

Cape Argus