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Plans to change number plates – again

The Minister of Transport wants us all to have a little chilli on our plates. Our number plates, that is. And if the proposals recently published in the Government Gazette is ratified and approved, it would see vehicle number plates nationwide become standardized and change once again. At the expense of the South African motorist.

In the proposals, the province’s name would be moved to the left of the plate, before the letters and numbers, and placed beneath a South African flag. This flag would be “in the colour chilli red, white, green, gold, black and blue, 35mm high and 45mm wide” and about the same size as a passport or ID photo. However, questions have been raised as to whether spending on standardising the plates is worth the money, and what would happen to other current or proposed changes to plates that have been made at provincial level? Transport Minister, Dipuo Peters has called for comments on the proposals to be submitted to the Department of Transport – despite that same department being repeatedly unavailable for comment and unresponsive to written queries by time of going to press.
Steven Moodley, a member of the KZN Provincial Legislature, questioned the cost of such a change. “New number plates would put an unnecessary financial burden on motorists, who are already laboring under the burden of rising fuel and toll costs,” he said. Diametrically opposed to this viewpoint is the opinion of Howard Dembovsky, the chairman of the Justice Project SA. The once-off expense would be worth the benefits to security that standardised plates could bring, he believes. “Is the motorist under attack for expenses? In this particular regard, no,” he said.

The proposed changes, as understood by THG, would also see the power removed that MEC’s currently have in making changes and setting policy with regard to number plates at provincial level. This is virtually guaranteed to lead to teeth-gnashing. For example, just last month, North West MEC for Human Settlements, Public safety and Liaison, Nono Maloyi announced new security features for North West number plates which will become a requirement in that province as of 1July 2014. The old adage once again comes to mind: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!” Least of all at the expense of the average motorist when, in essence, the proposals are just one more mindless exercise created by a sea of bureaucrats to justify their sheltered employment.

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