Unintelligent Number Plates in South Africa

The Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport (DRT) will again not meet the deadline for the roll out of the intelligent number plates (INP) project.

After several previous delays, the department had set October as its deadline for the implementation of the new number plates that have RFID tags and that contain unique identification codes programmed into a 2D bar code.

However, parts of the project will not be ready by then, despite Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane committing to the introduction of the INP system in October during her state of the province address. Roads and transport MEC Bheki Nkosi also stuck to this deadline in his Gauteng DRT budget speech for the financial year 2010/11.

“In October, the department will launch the intelligent number plate system,” he said. “The department has set aside R25 million for this project in this financial year. The process has gone past the drafting of regulations where motorists in the province participated in giving their inputs and comments, which have shaped the entire process thus far.”

The current number plate system is expected to have exhausted its number series by the end of October.

It was, however, postponed to January 2009 and later to April 2010. When this deadline could not be met, it was postponed to October.

The project is scheduled to run for four years, and is intended to be complete by November 2013.

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 have to be bolted onto vehicles with tamper-proof screws to prevent fraud.

“The new system is part of a smart crime-fighting initiative aimed at putting an end to the duplication of number plates frequently used in motor vehicle theft and other illegal practices.

All plates will be aluminum and will also have an RFID tag that contains a unique identification code programmed into a 2D bar code. The unique code will be used in the encryption of the tag and will contain a secure electronic mark.

This mark will act as a digital signature and will certify the numbers on the plate, the vehicle it was issued to, and if they were issued by a registered manufacturer.

The system will also have to integrate with the Gauteng proprietary portion of eNatis, Gautis, to provide notification of any offences. Each vehicle owner will be required to produce their personal identification and vehicle identification documents when ordering the new number plate from the accredited manufacturers.

The number plates are projected to cost an additional R50 to the current cost of purchasing a set. The department says prices will range from R150 to R170, depending on the supply-demand market transactions, but that costs will be closely monitored to protect motorists from inflated pricing.

It seems the South Africian government are following the British Government in relation to the manufacturing of number plates.

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