Zimbabwe will soon be making its own number plates that follow international standards and common Sadc guidelines and will cost motorists just over US$45, significantly less than the US$80 that imported plates cost.
Cabinet has approved the localisation of plate making, with Government putting in a US$1 million investment to start the process that will save around US$800 000 in imports annually, Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Senator Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said after the Cabinet meeting in Harare last night.
Minister Mutsvangwa said apart from saving foreign currency, the establishment of a plant for the local manufacture of number plates would also create employment.
“The Ministers of Transport and Infrastructural Development, and Higher and Tertiary Education, Innovation, Science and Technology Development presented a proposal for the localisation of the production of vehicle number plates and the development of an integrated national vehicle management as previously directed by Cabinet.
“Cabinet approved the proposal and attendant budget of US$1 million which will result in the establishment of a plant for the local manufacture of number plates,” she said.
Minister Mutsvangwa said the project was aimed at ensuring industrial scale manufacturing of registration plates, enabling Zimbabweans easy access at an affordable cost.
The number plates, which will be manufactured using locally available aluminium and acrylic materials, will be sold at US$45,61, a significant reduction from the current US$80,35 charge.
“The use of local materials will save the country foreign currency. Currently, the country spends € 700 000 annually on importing number plates. Furthermore, employment will be created to the generality of Zimbabweans,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
Following several months of vehicle number plates shortage, the Government tasked innovation hubs at universities to come up with a patent system for local production of plates with adequate security features, a move that has now paid dividends.
The proposed plates’ features will surpass those of the current ones, but still remain compliant with SADC guidelines.
“The objective of the project is to design and manufacture registration number plates that meet world design standards that use radio frequency identification tagging to optimise the use of road space, reduce non-compliance, enhance toll and parking authentication, combat vehicle crime and fight terrorism,” the minister said.
The project will see the country developing its own efficient and secure integrated vehicle management software system which meets global standards.
“Given its short payback period and high rate of return, Cabinet decided that the project will be funded through a venture fund,” Minister Mutsvangwa said.
Because of the acute shortage of number plates, Government in February last year allowed importers of vehicles who had been unable to register to obtain temporary identification cards for indefinite use.
However, with temporary number plates normally having a 14-day lifespan, there had been a huge increase in unregistered vehicles as the shortage persisted owing to foreign currency constraints.
Although the number plates are now readily available, their cost remains on the high side.
Police have launched a blitz under which unregistered vehicles are being impounded and barred from passing through tollgates, as a way of enforcing compliance with regulations.
According to the Vehicle Registration and Licensing Act, vehicles should be registered and always display their registration marks and numbers.