Kenyan motorists are expected to start paying Kshs. 3,700 for the new digital number plates. This includes owners of cars, lorries, buses, and pick-ups. Motorcycle and trailer owners will be required to pay Kshs. 1,500.
Currently, Kenya has 2.2 million cars on its various roads. In total, it is projected that the government will collect over Kshs. 6 billion from this. The new rules also give motorists the option of applying for a preferred registration number at a fee of Kshs. 30,000.
Francis Meja, the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) director-general, stated that the process would take place gradually. Mr. Meja was quoted saying that NTSA would give motorists a specific time frame within which they will be required to have adopted the new high-tech number plates.
The newly gazette rules require each vehicle to have a front and rear plate. In addition to this, vehicles will have a third license. This is a sticker which will be placed on the windscreen and it will bear information on ownership. This will ease such things as technical inspection, tax and insurance validation.
Mr. Meja stated that the sticker is necessary since it can be used for validation purposes in case of changes to the rear and front plates or when it is covered in mud. This sticker’s life span will be 10 years.
The new plates will have a microchip that can be remotely read. The radio frequency identification (RFID) microchip will be implanted on the sticker. Its function will be to transfer information between it and mobile police readers or in other cases traffic lights. Mr. Meja was quoted saying that there are plans to synchronize the microchip with traffic lights. According to him this will help provide vehicle details of those who violate traffic rules.
In other countries, plates embedded with a microchip have been used to locate stolen cars. A growing number of middle-class Kenyans have been importing second-hand cars as an alternative to the inconvenient and chaotic public transport system. With the new plates system, imported cars will be fitted with plates upon entry at the port. This means that vehicles imported after this law is enforced will not attract replacement costs. This is among things that will force motorists to dig deeper into their pockets given that NTSA seeks to increase the annual vehicle inspection from Kshs. 2,600 to Kshs. 3,900. Other cases that are increasing the burden on motorists are increased road maintenance levy and rising fuel prices.
The process is set to begin once the legal battles between MIG international, a Ugandan Firm, and Tropical Technologies concludes. It awaits to be seen how this will end and how soon.
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