by Christopher Makaza
Government yesterday approved a US$1 million plant to manufacture vehicle number plates, a development that is meant to save foreign currency and create employment for the country.
Addressing the media after a Cabinet meeting in Harare last night, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister, Senator Monica Mutsvangwa said the country would soon be making its own number plates following international standards and SADC guidelines that will cost motorists just over US$45 less instead of the US$80 that motorists are currently paying for imported number plate.
“Cabinet approved the proposed and attendant budget of US$1 million which will result in the establishment of a plant for the local manufacturing of number plates. The project aims to ensure industrial scale manufacturing of number plates and enable citizens to access the same at affordable costs. The number plates will be manufactured using aluminium and acrylic materials which are locally available,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
She highlighted that the selling price for one registration plate will be significantly reduced from the current US$80.35 to US$ 45.61 adding that the use of local material will save foreign currency and reduce the import bill by 56%.
Currently, the country spends 700 000 Euro annually importing number plates.
The proposed number plates will have enhanced features, which supersede those on the current number plates, but still maintain compliance to SADC regulations.
According to the Minister, the objective of the project is to design and manufacture registration number plates that meet world design standards that use Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tagging to optimise the use of road space, reduce non-compliance, enhance toll and parking authentication, combat vehicle crime and fight terrorism.
Minister Mutsvangwa also revealed that the country will also be developing its own efficient and secure Integrated Vehicle Management Software System (INVMS) that will modernise the country’s national vehicle management to world class standards. “Given its short payback period and high rate of return, cabinet decided that the project will be funded through the venture fund,” she said.
Due to acute shortage of number plates, Government in February 2019 allowed vehicle importers who had been unable to register to obtain temporary identification cards for indefinite use. With temporary number plates normally having a 14-day life span, there had been a huge increase in unregistered vehicles as the shortage persisted owing to foreign currency constraints.
Police have since launched a blitz where unregistered vehicles are being impounded and barred from passing through toll gates, as a way of enforcing compliance with regulations.