Punjab faces crisis of computerised number plates for vehicles

Over 650,000 people have been deprived of number plates, registration cards despite paying fee


Rizwan Asif April 15, 2019
PHOTO: FILE

LAHORE: Due to the negligence and poor planning of the excise and taxation department, Punjab is facing a serious crisis of computerised number plates and smart registration cards for vehicles.

In the last few months, over 650,000 people have been deprived of the number plates and registration cards despite paying the fee. The traffic police have been increasingly imposing traffic fines and challans on vehicles without computerised number plates.

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Moreover, the company responsible for printing registration cards has halted its operations due to extraordinary delays in payment of dues by the excise and taxation department for the last few days. However, after assurance from the high officials on Saturday, the company resumed a limited supply of the registration cards.

On the other side, Punjab Minister for Excise, Taxation, and Narcotics Control Hafiz Mumtaz while taking notice of the issues faced by the public has issued a show cause notice to excise secretary. He also informed the chief minister about the crisis. Taking an immediate notice, the chief minister replaced the secretary excise for Punjab.

In 2018, directorate general at the excise secretariat stressed the need for making new contracts for the number plates but due to negligence on the part of the caretaker government and sluggish attitude of senior excise officers, the contract remains pending. Between 2016 and 2018, the Punjab Safe City Authority recommended amendments to the design of computerised number plates due to which the work for the contract was further delayed.

Later, the Punjab Excise Department held the bidding process for number plates through a tender. The tender was won by the former company but a competitor company obtained a stay order from the court.

According to sources, the unsteady supply of number plates became a serious issue in December 2018. The directorate general of excise office kept informing the secretariat about the problem but the former excise secretary didn't pay heed to the issue.

A few days ago, Punjab Excise Minister Hafiz Mumtaz expressed his serious concern over the number plate crisis and issued a show cause notice to Excise Secretary Alam Mehsood. The notice also had mention of negligible attitude and performance of senior officers in the department.

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According to the source, the excise secretary sent an extremely befitting response to the show cause notice after which excise minister informed the chief minister of the situation. Consequently, Mehsood was replaced by Nabeel Ahmed Awan as the new secretary for the Punjab Excise Department on the orders of the chief minister.

According to sources in the department, at present applications for over 300,000 vehicles are queued for registration and number plates.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 15th, 2019.

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