For Punjab vehicles, new number plates in the offing

Safe City and excise dept agree to make registration plates readable for cameras.

Rameez Khan April 03, 2017

LAHORE: After several weeks of deliberations with the Punjab Safe City Authority, the excise and taxation department has finalised its proposal for universal registration plates for vehicles to be introduced by June.

The finalised proposal by the Excise, Taxation and Narcotics Control Department (ET&NC) suggests three alphabets for the entire province with three-digit numbers for vehicles.

For two-wheelers, it suggests four-digit numerical instead of the current system of three to distinguish between the types of vehicles.

The series for private vehicles would start with AAA for the entire province without any distinction for the city. The new plates would not have the year of registration.

The number plate to keep distinction between government vehicles, semi-government vehicles, ambulances and commercial vehicles would have a different first alphabet such as GAA instead of AAA for government vehicles.

The remaining pattern of the number plate would remain the same except for its size which has been increased to make the registration plates more readable for the cameras of Punjab Safe City Authority (PSCA).

The authority is to install more than 10,000 high-definition CCTV cameras by the mid of 2017. An important component of this system is automated number readers to keep track of the vehicles on the move.

The government has also introduced e-ticketing through the automated number plate reading (ANPR) system of the Safe City Authority for keeping track of traffic violations. The existing size and format of the number plate was not optimum due to which changes in size and format were suggested to the excise department.

Both the PSCA and ET&NC held several meetings over the new pattern of vehicle registration plates.

Excise officials told The Express Tribune that the PSCA cameras had difficulty reading the current pattern of the number plates due to the font size and year of the registration on the plate.

The authority suggested a much bigger number plate than the existing ones to make them readable to the ANPR system. The excise department, however, resisted any drastic increase of size and suggested keeping the existing size. In the end, both the authorities settled for a moderate increase.

The excise department’s prime reason for introducing the universal number plate is to reduce the load on the motoring branch, Lahore. All regional motoring branches of the ET&NC issue city-specific number plates.

Majority of the vehicle owners need to come to Lahore for a Lahore-specific registration plate. Lahore-registered vehicles also get the best resale deals in Punjab. With a universal number, there would be no distinction and the excise authorities hope the load of vehicle registration would be divided.

The proposal, after consultations with the safe city officials, has been finalised and will now be sent to the provincial cabinet for approval, ET&NC Additional Director General Masudul Haq told The Express Tribune. After the suggested amendments, the new number plates would be introduced.

He hoped the new universal number plates would be introduced by June or July this year. The existing number plates will not change in any way.

The current three-year contract with the number plate vendor is set to expire this year and the new contract would hopefully be for the universal number plates, the official said.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 3rd, 2017.

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