NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 7 – Police have detained footballer McDonald Mariga’s Hummer vehicle for bearing personalised number plate.
Traffic Commandant Patrick Lumumba said the vehicle was detained on Wednesday morning when his younger brother was found driving it.
“We have been looking for these vehicles because their owners have decided they want to continue operating without following the law. Mariga’s vehicle was detained today and this is just the beginning,” Lumumba said.
He said the vehicle was detained within Kilimani area.
The vehicle bears Mariga’s name on the front plate instead of the official registration number issued to him by the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA).
Lumumba said the offence is punishable under Section 12 of the Traffic Act which outlines all prescribed number plates.
The crackdown on such number plates was launched last month following concerns raised by the Registrar of Motor Vehicles.
Police have said they will impound any other vehicle found bearing names of owners instead of official number plates.
“We are not targeting any specific individual… this is a crackdown which is aimed at ensuring all motorists adhere to the rule of law as outlined in the Traffic Act,” he added.
Businessmen and politicians including Mike Sonko of Makadara have personalised number plates.
The Registrar of Motor Vehicles last month announced that his officials were working closely with the police to impound all vehicles with customised number plates.
“I have held discussions with the police and action must be taken,” Francis Meja told Capital News 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 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.