The intelligent number plate (INP) system, along with several other IT projects, will remain on hold as the Gauteng transport department runs short on resources and turns its attention to other key projects.

While the department says projects under the Intelligent Transport System (ITS) are key to cutting costs, most IT projects will be delayed due to a shortage of funds and skills, as well as other challenges.

Gauteng roads and transport MEC Bheki Nkosi says that, despite the role the ITS initiatives play in transforming transport systems, many challenges still remained.

“The projects continue to face challenges other than resources. [But] there will be delays in some of the projects due to resource constraints,” he adds.

The ITS involves the integration and supply of information through information and communication technologies. The INP system forms part of the ITS and has not made any significant progress since it was announced in 2007.

The ITS is divided into several projects, including an integrated safety and security system, ATM surveillance, interoperable/integrated fair management, intelligent number plates, integrated revenue management system and document management system. Most of these projects are now expected to be delayed.

The department declined to confirm how much the INP project was costing and what additional resources for delayed projects were required. The INP was previously funded from the province’s R75 million integrated safety and security budget.

In May, the department said no new dates have been set for the implementation of its INP system. The department said the continuation of the project was subject to decisions made by Nkosi.

Other priorities

The MEC said in the 2009/10 period, the department would focus on delivering several projects, including the taxi recapitalisation programme, compliance monitoring of public transport operators and the establishment of licence administration bodies. He added the department would prioritise all transport infrastructure related to the 2010 Fifa World Cup and the implementation of the integrated ticketing strategy.

Only in September will the department introduce a strategy and begin to look at a way of ensuring an enhanced intelligent transport system. An agenda on the approach the provincial government will take to tolling will only be available in November.

The annual report, which will be released later this year, is expected to indicate the progress of the project. It will also outline, for the MEC, what needs to be done, the budget for the project and how the project will continue.

Lengthy delays

Initiated in 2006, the project was announced by previous transport MEC Ignatius Jacobs in his 2007/8 budget speech. Jacobs then announced a six-month testing of the audit trail of the new number plate would begin in August 2007, and that full-scale implementation was scheduled for 1 January 2008.

In July 2008, Jacobs announced the implementation of the project had been postponed to January 2009, once “extensive consultations” with stakeholders had been completed. A model plate was presented to the MEC and a member of the Gauteng Portfolio Committee on Public Transport Roads and Works, and industry representatives, in 2008. It was announced the state attorney was also considering proposed regulations, following which the system would be tested for efficiency.

In March 2009, the department confirmed the implementation of the project had yet to begin. In May, the department said the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research was still completing security features for the plate, and no implementation dates had been set.

DATED: 12th August 2009