Vehicle owners to buy identity stickers by October 1

The scanner that will be used by NTSA to detect the Third License Sticker that will be placed on the windscreen of both new and used motor vehicles. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG
The scanner that will be used by NTSA to detect the Third License Sticker that will be placed on the windscreen of both new and used motor vehicles. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG  

More than 300,000 commercial vehicle owners are from October expected to each part with Sh700 to acquire electronic stickers that will make it harder for drivers to get away with traffic offences and help police recover stolen cars.
The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) said the stickers – referred to as third identifiers – will be affixed on vehicle windscreens and will in an instant indicate whether a car is stolen, its insurance status and history of traffic offences.

The electronic chips come loaded with each vehicle’s details, including the number plate, model and chassis number, which are then linked to a central database.

The transport regulator has since the beginning of this month issued 2,363 such stickers to persons registering new cars and is now broadening it to income-generating vehicles including public service vehicles (PSVs), trucks and pick-ups.

“Beginning October, our online portal will be updated to allow people to pay for the sticker before proceeding for their annual roadworthiness inspection,” Jacqueline Githinji, NTSA’s registration and licensing director, said in an interview.

“These stickers will for now only be issued during inspection so motorists, whose vehicles were recently certified will get theirs when inspection is next due. We want to make this process painless.”

Boda-bodas (motorbikes), tuk-tuks (three-wheeler taxis) and tractors have been exempted from the new rule. The NTSA inspects about 25,000 commercial vehicles per month.

The tamperproof stickers have a shelf life of 10 years and use radio-frequency technology to transmit information to the NTSA’s core system, via hand-held readers or overhead street cameras.

These gadgets can decode data embedded in the third identifier chips from a distance of six metres and even when a vehicle is moving at 200 kilometers per hour.

The NTSA, which is seeking to automate law enforcement, announced their introduction in May, saying they would be mandatory for all cars registered after July 1.

A technical hitch, however, saw the programme kick a month late, with NTSA now saying it had issued 2,363 of them as of August 23.

Private motorists will be required to acquire the stickers when renewing their annual insurance, with NTSA director-general, Francis Meja saying they are discussing the modalities of this system with the sector regulator.

NTSA plans to have all registered motor vehicles in the country (over two million) compliant by the end of next year.

Despite the fact that billions of shillings have been spent installing different versions of security and traffic cameras in major towns across the country, there exists no linkage between motorists and the NTSA database.

This deficiency has emboldened motor vehicle thieves since they swap number plates upon stealing a car, helping to throw the police off their tracks.

NTSA early this year signed a supply deal with Tönnjes Group, a German-based security products firm, to supply and support installation of 3.3 million of them over three years. Their technology is being used in countries like Peru and Cayman Islands.

The windshield labels are also referred to as third licence stickers, with the preceding two being number plates affixed to the front and back of a vehicle.