Kenyan motorists will pay the government over Sh9 billion to acquire new high-tech vehicle number plates set to replace the current ones in the financial year starting July.
The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) says it will directly issue a fresh tender to circumvent a legal hitch that blocked the Prisons department from picking a firm to supply smart number plates.
Each owner of a car, a bus, a lorry or a pickup will pay Sh3,000 for the new plates which come with a microchip that can be machine-read remotely.
Mr Francis Meja, NTSA Director-General, said samples of the high-tech number plates have been circulated to local manufacturers ahead of tendering.
“We do not see any reason to give the deal to a foreign firm since there is need to support local manufacturing. Once we have verified that they can deliver what we are looking for then we will proceed to tender,” said Mr Meja.
Kenya had 2.98 million vehicles on its roads — including motorcycles and trailers — in 2017 translating to about Sh9 billion new number plate acquisition fees.
The push for the smart plates comes in the wake of increased duplication of the current ones by tax- evasion cartels and criminals.
Mr Meja said NTSA is not part of legal suit filed by one of the losing bidders for the contract to supply the new plates, arguing that frees it to launch a fresh tender.
Ugandan firm MIG International was awarded the Sh2 billion number plate supply deal in 2015 alongside Germany’s Hoffman International.
But the Public Procurement Administrative and Review Board (PPARB) annulled the tender following an appeal by Tropical Technologies.
The board ordered the Kenya Prisons Service to carry out the tendering process afresh, forcing MIG to sue.
The new generation number plates were supposed to be rolled out in September 2015 to curb crime.
Through the computerised number plates that has anti-counterfeit features that include holograms, watermarks, and laser markers, police will trace information on particular vehicles and their owners.