If you have bought a car or motorcycle and are going to apply for new number plates, prepare for a bit of a wait. The contract of the company that issues them has run out and no one new has been chosen.
The one-year contract that was given to Mehran Electronic Company and Sufi Enterprise Private Limited last year expired in the first week of April. Official now say that the new contract will be awarded within two weeks.
“We are trying to award the contract to another company by the first week of May,” said Motor Vehicle Wing Director Dabeer Ahmed while talking to The Express Tribune. His department cannot issue original number plates for the moment and people will have to make do with ‘temporary’ ones.
The problem with this is that the traffic police fine people with temporary number plates as they are valid for only a month. And as long as the plates are temporary, the car owner has to keep with them all their papers to avoid being fined.The department has a computerised system to register and verify vehicle and owner documents. But the private company makes the actual plates. Ahmed claims it takes about 10 minutes if all the papers are in order.
It is not clear why the department did not act faster if the contract was expiring. Motor Vehicle Wing Director Dabeer Ahmed said that each year they award the contract to the lowest bidder before it expires, this year there was a delay because of “administrative problems”. This delay means that work will pile up. Up to 200 vehicles and 400 motorcycles are registered across Sindh each day.
A frustrated businessman, Zaffar Abbas, said that he had been waiting for a month for his new plates.
“It seems like they are having me on,” he said. “It is nothing but a joke with people.” All he has is an allotted number but no plate. He was made an offer by an official who said he could make him temporary plates for Rs5,000. “If you cannot afford that amount, we suggest you to get a number plate from a vendor sitting along the road in the open market,” he said, quoting officials at Civic Centre.
It was much the same story with Azizullah Memon, a government federal employee, who paid the Rs5,000 registration free in February but is still waiting. “I have two choices – either I grease the palms of the motor vehicle officials or patiently wait for an indefinite time, what they call ‘due course of time’,” he said.
For his part, director Ahmed refutes the allegations that temporary plates are being issued. “This never ever happens,” he said. “We normally allot numbers to customers who get fake number plates from the open market, which is illegal.”
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Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.