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Kenya to issue new number plates

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 20 – The Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) will propose to the government to formulate legislation to regulate the use of motorcycles and carrying of passengers.

KRA’s Registrar of Motor Vehicles Simeon Ole Kirgotty told reporters that the country needs a law to curb the increase in the number of motorcycle accidents because most operators disregard the traffic rules governing this mode of transport.

“More accidents are being caused by motorcycles when compared to those caused by other forms of transport. This is because most of those riders do not even have driving licenses and they also do not wear protective gear,” he said adding that most of them are inexperienced as they graduate from riding bicycles popularly known as ‘boda bodas’ to the motorbikes.

According to data from the Kenya Police Traffic Department, the bikes caused the deaths of 303 deaths passengers and riders in the first six months of 2008 alone.

This phenomenon has been blamed on among other things the upsurge in motorbikes registration since the Value Added Tax on them was zero rated in the 2008/2009 budget, which was meant to encourage their use as a cheaper transport alternative.

Statistics from KRA indicate that in 2006 only 6,250 motorcycles were registered but the number rose eight fold to 51, 412 last year.

Mr Kirgotty said KRA would conduct public awareness campaigns to educate people on the dangers of riding on the motorbikes without reflectors and protective gear such as helmets.

“Motorcycles have assisted us to reduce unemployment, but then the safety of the person riding it and his passengers must be taken care of,” Mr Kirgotty emphasised.

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Speaking during the launch of a new set of number plates for motorcycles, wheel tractors and three wheelers that will distinguish them from those of motor vehicles, the registrar said the new initiative would help them to rein in on those who use the bikes as Public Service Vehicles.

He said the change of numbering, which will be effected beginning in May, had been particularly necessitated by the rise in the number of motorbikes on the road – which are given similar number plates as motor vehicles – that has led to a quick depletion of new (number) plate series making the administration of motor vehicles difficult.

“People are having their KAY regarded to be very old yet the registration series was taken up by motorcycles,” he said adding that car dealers had complained because this had led to a loss of business for them.

He said representatives of the Auto Bazaar Association had welcomed the idea as they were complaining that their profit margins had reduced because people were shunning cars with, for instance the registration ‘KAZ’ because they were considered ‘old’.

“Kenyans are buying number plates for prestige. When you have a (registration number) ‘KBG’ and another has a ‘KAZ’, then his is considered an old car. Why can’t you look at the mileage or the year of manufacture,” Mr Kirgotty wondered.

Motorbike registration will begin with ‘KMCA 001A’, that of three wheelers or ‘tuk tuks’ as they are locally known will be ‘KTWA 001 A’ while the tractors and other heavy machinery will now be “KHMA 001A’.

He added they would soon recall other registrations and issue them, free of charge – with the new unique numbers to create uniformity.

Once this exercise is complete, then it would reduce fraudulent registrations while the number plate series will be in tandem with the number of imported vehicles.

Mr Kirgotty said the Authority would put up public notices to show which numbers have been allocated to these modes of transport.

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Meanwhile, the Registrar also hinted that they were working on a new mechanism to ensure that transit vehicles are not dumped in the local market.

“We are likely to have a sticker that we will put on the windscreen but we are in the process of working on those procedures,” he added.


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