The Gauteng provincial authorities have not begun with the implementation of the intelligent number plate system.

Spokesman for the Gauteng Department of Public Transport, Roads and Works Alfred Nhlapo confirms that implementation of the project has not begun.

Announced in 2007 by provincial MEC for public transport, roads and works Ignatius Jacobs, the full implementation of the project was scheduled for January 2008, but it has since been subject to several delays.

The electronic number plate system will place a number validation label on the rear window of vehicles, along with a bar code that traffic authorities will be able to scan. Number plate manufacturers will also have to be accredited and plates bolted onto vehicles with tamper-proof screws, to prevent fraud.

The fraud-proof plates also form part of the province’s R75 million integrated safety and security system. The department hoped the system would curb cases of “vehicle cloning”, where standard number plates are fraudulently duplicated and registered, or where fraudulent vehicle registration documents are issued.

In July 2008, the MEC announced the implementation of the project had been postponed to January 2009 – once “extensive consultations” with stakeholders had been completed.

At the same time, 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. It was announced the state attorney was also considering proposed regulations – following which, the system would be tested for efficiency.

Still waiting

The MEC announced the number plate system in his 2007/8 budget speech, saying the system would “increase efficiency and effectiveness in all areas of operation” and “enhance the integrity of vehicle registration compliance and effective law enforcement”.

He also stated government was using technology to provide “an accurate and secure method of vehicle identification and verification to sanitise the current vehicle registration information system”.

Jacobs also announced the testing of the audit trail of the new number plate – a process which would involve manufacturers and embossers – will be conducted as a six-month pilot project, starting in August 2007. “Full-scale implementation is scheduled for the 1st of January 2008,” he stated.

Jacobs also warned motorists that there would be additional costs – saying they would have to pay for a new set of plates when the new system was introduced, along with a bar code and security feature called the Number Validation Label. He later stated that “issues such as the cost of a standard set of plates will not see a major addition to the current market price” – and that all costs would be communicated to the public.

The department also stated it would phase out the current number plate system “over a period of time”.