KZN to wait on plates plan

2014-04-09 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Transport Department was yesterday advised by the legislature to also consider the process being undertaken by its national counterpart in changing vehicle number plates in the province.

The transport portfolio committee gave the advice when the department presented its proposal to replace town-based registrations like “ND” and “NP” with “KZN” number plates in line with other provinces like the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.

It was revealed at the meeting that the national department is to gazette provisions for the inclusion of the South African flag and security features on the new plates.

But a department report said the province’s coat of arms would also be included.

According to the proposal, personalised number plates would be retained, along with the number plates for government vehicles.

The number plates set aside for King Goodwill Zwelithini and those for municipalities and entities such as Ezemvelo would also be retained.

In terms of the proposals, the new number plates would be made of aluminium and contain security features.

Transport MEC Willies Mchunu said the changes were “not serious”, but about digitising the numbering on the plates.

“There should be nothing controversial,” he said, adding that the numbering on plates in KZN had reached the 800 000 mark and would soon reach 1 000 000.

“It means that we have to change number plates anyway,” Mchunu said.

He said the change process would take place over five years.

However, the planned changes attracted scepticism from opposition parties, who queried the cost implications.

The DA’s Radley Keys said the soon-to-be-published gazette posed pertinent questions regarding the proposal from KZN and what the national department was proposing.

“If national is introducing a national number plate, why go into the expense of introducing provincial number plates?” Keys asked.

He charged that the motivation for security features could be addressed in a different way, and asked about the cost implications.

The Minority Front’s Vimmi Ramdaas-Bachu echoed Keys’s sentiments on the cost and suggested that the department upgrade the existing number plate system.

Committee member Ram Maharaj accused the department of changing the plates from aluminium to plastic and then back for security reasons over the years.

“When will we find the right system that won’t have security problems, because at any given time it costs the motorist to change the number plates?”

He said it would be fine if the department bore the cost of changing the plates.

“They can change it if and when they want to do. I think that is the best way to do it,” he said.

Responding to Keys, Transport Department official Simo Chamane said it was not just the security features that were considered in changing the plates.

“We know for a fact that there is no place in our province that is ND. There’s no place in our province that is NP,” he said.

Keys was unconvinced, saying he could not understand how number plates could liberate people and suggested that the legislature building, which represented colonial power, be demolished.

Committee chairperson Mxolisi Kaunda said the committee supported the initiative in principle, but more information on cost implications was still needed.

Echoing Keys, who wanted the department to put its initiative on hold until the national department finalised its regulations, Kaunda said the department should align its initiative with the national exercise.

Department head Sbu Gumbi said the they became aware of the national process last week.

As a result, Gumbi said, the provincial department would allow the national process to unfold so that it could align its systems with the national approach.

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