, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 2 – The Registrar of Motor Vehicles and the police have launched a major crackdown on vehicles that bear customised number plates.
The Registrar of Motor Vehicles Francis Meja told Capital News that any vehicle bearing names of individuals was in contravention of the law and would be impounded. The motorist will also face arrest.
“I have held discussions with the police and action must be taken,” Meja said in an interview at his Times Tower office.
“Section 12 of the Traffic Act is very clear on prescribed number plates. These numbers (the customised ones) are the ones we call unprescribed number plates. They are not authorised,” Meja said.
He said they were also targeting manufacturers of the fake plates because it is only the Kenya Prisons Department that has been contracted to manufacture number plates for the government.
“There is no one allowed to manufacture number plates without the consent of the Registrar [of Motor Vehicles]. It is totally illegal, those number plates with people’s names are not known to us,” he said and warned those having them to comply with the law.
Dozens of prominent personalities in the country are currently using the personalised number plates, oblivious of the laws requiring them to comply.
“We have noted, particularly a number of politicians are using them and we have notified the traffic police to take appropriate action. I am warning the public not to fall into this temptation,” he warned.
The registrar said there are fines stipulated under the Traffic Act.
He clarified that Section 12 of the Traffic Act was amended in 1977 to “allow for what we call personalised number plates, but these rules have not been gazetted to operationalise that amendment.”
“Once that amendment has been operationalised, the rules and requirements of what will be required to enable you acquire one will be made known to the public but as it is right now it remains illegal,’ he said adding, “We know the perception out there is that this is allowed but I want to tell you it is totally in contravention of the laws.”
There have been widespread misconceptions that the authority issues personalised number plates at fees ranging between Sh150,000 to Sh300,000.
Motorists with reflective number plates are also targeted in the crackdown.
“We have also seen people changing their number plates to suit their own design, the public should know that if you go out there and manufacture number plates that are not in conformity with the law, that also is illegal and the police will have to deal with you,” he warned.
Nairobi Provincial Police chief Antony Kibuchi announced on Thursday that his officers were under firm instructions to impound vehicles found contravening the traffic regulations.
“I would like to inform all motorists that it is illegal to use somebody’s name instead of registration numbers,” the police chief said and warned that “I have instructed police officers to arrest anybody who is driving his or her vehicle bearing names instead of registration numbers.”
Prominent personalities including Makadara Member of Parliament Mike Mbuvi alias Sonko, footballer McDonald Mariga, and musician Ringtone are among people who have their names customized in the place of registration numbers.
When contacted, Ringtone admitted having the number plate but claimed he had stopped using it.
“I only used it when I was doing a (video) shoot, I no longer use it and now my vehicle has registration numbers issued by the KRA. I no longer use the one with my name,” the musician said on telephone.
He declined to tell us how he obtained the registration number plates with his name, and instead referred us to the KRA.
The Makadara MP did not pick his mobile phone but reports indicated he was attending a peace rally organised by Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and Eldoret North MP William Ruto in Meru.