The rollout of the digital number plates launched last month by Interior Cabinet Secretary, Fred Matiangi and his Transport counterpart James Macharia faces uncertainty following a case filed at the High Court in Nakuru.
Following the launch of the number plates last month, Interior CS speaking at the General Service Unit Recce Squad Headquarters in Ruiru, said that issuance of the new plates will begin with newly registered vehicles that is, from KDK. Further, motorists with older number plates will have 18 months from 1st October 2022 to acquire the smart number plates at a cost of Ksh. 3,000/=. Any motorist who fails to follow the directive to acquire the new digital plates would be liable to a fine of up to Sh20,000/- or a jail term of six months.
Nakuru-based lawyer Peter Okiro moved to the High Court challenging the decision to have already registered vehicles compelled to get the new number plates. He argues that the said directive was issued without public participation as is required by the Constitution. The Petitioner, Mr. Peter Okiro in his petition has sued the Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Transport, and The Honorable Attorney General. The National Transport & Safety Authority and the Law Society of Kenya have been enjoined as interested parties. The petitioner prays that the Court finds the directive to be unconstitutional and consequently quash the directive.
This is not the only hurdle the rollout of the number plate has faced. In our previous article, we listed that Interior PS Karanja Kibicho had earlier this year told parliament that the NTSA had a budget shortfall to the tune of Kenya Shillings, 604 Million, and part of that money was meant for the rollout of the smart number plates.
We also listed the court case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah (now Senator Busia) in 2020 where High Court Judge Justice James Makau temporarily suspended the government’s plan to establish a production facility for motor vehicle digital registration number plates. The Activist had claimed that the procurement process undertaken by the Kenya Prisons Services had violated the Public Procurement and Asset Disposal Act, 2015, and would lead to loss of taxpayers’ money.
Interestingly, the Senator on 19th September 2022 threatened to sue NTSA over the tendering process for the rollout of the digital number plates which he terms as ‘suspect’. The senator has claimed that he was in possession of a memo dated 6th September 2022 from the director of registration and licensing to the director general, asking him to give an order for direct procurement. Mr. Omtatah’s primary concern is if the government had already launched samples of the number plates, what was the need for the procurement?
During their unveiling last month, it was stated that the new digital number plates would be linked to the vehicle chassis number with several inbuilt security features that are easily identifiable to law enforcement and comply with international standards. This is aimed at enhancing security by disabling the element of duplication of number plates where vehicles with duplicated are used to commit crimes and even used in terror acts. The plate will be fixed on vehicles at their point of entry, a move that will greatly curb tax evasion.
It remains to be seen what will be the Government’s next course of action if the Court grants the petitioner’s prayers and declares the directive to have motorists acquire the digital number plates for previously registered motor vehicles to be unconstitutional noting that the Government has heavily invested in this rollout.
We at spaceyamagari.com shall keep you updated on the progress of the rollout and the case as and when it happens.