The Gauteng transport department is still not ready to implement its new “intelligent” number plate system even though letter-and-number combinations are running out.

If they do, registering a new car will become impossible.

The new system which was announced by Transport MEC Ignatius Jacobs two years ago and supposed to have been introduced in January, 2009 but spokesperson Alfred Nhlapo said this week the process had been delayed “because of the enormity of the task”.

“It’s never been done before and the amount of work involved is quite humungous,” he said.

Nhlapo said the department wants to increase security for vehciel owners by ensuring there is an “audit trail” for every plate made; tracing will be possible from manufacture to distribution.

“It is meant to reduce vehicle crime and related activities,” Nhlapo said, but no infrastructure was in place to support it.

The department was consulting government bodies and agencies, including the Bureau of Standards, as well as plate manufacturers and distributors, to ensure all regulations are obeyed.

National Transport department spokesperson Sam Monareng said that in terms of the legislation Gazetted in 2008, the MEC of a province could establish a number-plate system consisting of a combination of two letters, two figures and two letters in any sequence.

Currently, vehicle ownerspay around R180 for a set of plates but it is still not known what the new plates will cost.

May has become the new deadline for their implementation.

DATED: 24th January 2009