Johannesburg – Motorists in Gauteng will have to display a third number plate on their cars, as part of a new vehicle registration system, to be introduced to the province early next year.

Gauteng’s Department of Public Transport, Roads and Works has embarked on a pilot project and consultations with key stakeholders, before fully implementing a new number plate system.

“The new system will introduce a third number plate, in addition to the two for the front and rear of vehicles,” the provincial department of Transport, Roads and Works said in a statement, regarding the New Intelligent Number Plate System.

The department’s spokesperson Alfred Nhlapo explained that the Number Validation Label, which will be placed in the rear window of vehicles, bears a bar code that law-enforcement officials will be able to scan.

The new system is expected to prevent what the department refers to as vehicle cloning, by which number plates are fraudulently duplicated and registered, as well as the fraudulent issuing of vehicle documents.

Motorists will not have to pay any extra fees for the new number plates.

“The implementation of the new system will not entail the payment of an additional cost by motorists,” the department said.

“The motorists will still pay for a new set of plates, at the appropriate time of the replacement of their plates, as is currently the case.”

This system was first announced by MEC Ignatius Jacobs in his budget speech in June this year.

“Full scale implementation is scheduled for 1 January 2008,” said Mr Nhlapo, regarding system, which is to use electronic tags to help control the distribution of number plates in the province.

The new system is linked to the province’s crime reduction strategy, featuring security mechanisms linking each vehicle to its owner and accrediting all number plate manufacturers and owners.

“We have started with the manufacturers because they are key to the process. The reason is that at the end of the process we will be able to trace back each licence plate to the manufacturer and the distributor,” said Mr Nhlapo.

He explained that the department is engaged in a process to ensure proper phasing out of the current number plate system over a period of time.

This will be communicated to the general public and all stakeholders, as soon as the project is ready for implementation.

“The new numbering process would also present more options for the province, which is running out of number combinations,” he said.

In August, the Committee for Active Road Safety (CARS), gave the new system the thumbs-up.

CARS chairperson Ian Auret said they welcomed the fixing of number plates to vehicles using security screws or pop rivets, as motorists’ removing their plates was a “worrying tendency.”

“The growing trend of motorists removing their number plates is a worrying tendency that displays a lack of respect for the law and a clear intent to transgress traffic laws.

“This unfortunate practice contributes to vehicle crime and plays a major role in aggravating our law enforcement pattern with regard to traffic supervision and control.”

Mr Auret said the new system would require strict policing and vigorous implementation of the law.

“It would be a very positive step if the introduction of the new regulations could be implemented without unnecessary delay,” he said.