Gauteng motorists could by October be fitting to their vehicles the new Intelligent Number Plates, which are aimed at reducing crime.

The Gauteng provincial government’s Department of Transport said this week it was going ahead with its electronic vehicle identification project, announced last year by Transport MEC Ignatius Jacobs.

A tentative format was agreed upon where the number plate would read, for example, 12AB34GP, instead of the current format which starts with three letters followed by three digits and the GP province identifier.

Department spokesperson Alfred Nhlapo said the new plates were a response to growing concerns over the looming shortage of registration number plates for Gauteng due to the high volume of car ownership in the province.

He pointed out that Gauteng had sufficient number capacity in the current system to last until next year.

“These would have to be exhausted before the implementation of the new intelligent number plate project.

“The new process is only expected to kick-start when the current number plates are exhausted.

“But new vehicles are intended to start on the Intelligent Number Plate project from October.

“The approach is part of the systematic roll-over meant to afford a smooth transition, thus minimising disruptions and confusion within the industry,” he said.

Nhlapo said the new plates would be made only of aluminium, and would incorporate unique security features such as a 2D barcode mark and a passive electronic radio-frequency identification tag.

“Only registered and accredited service providers will be licensed to manufacture and emboss the new plates.”

The registration plates would be renewed every five years. “Motorists who want to retain their current registration number will be allowed to do so, but they will have to go through a renewal exercise so that their registration plates are manufactured within the new specifications,” Nhlapo said.

He added that when the changeover begins, vehicle owners would receive sufficient notification.

He said each vehicle owner would be required to produce his or her personal identification and the vehicle’s identification documents when ordering the new number plates from the accredited manufacturers.

“Upon its implementation, the project will assist in creating a platform to give Gauteng a more accurate and reliable alternative to the current vehicle information database, thus enabling effective law enforcement,” said Nhlapo.