The Sindh Police department has finally registered its vehicles with the provincial excise and taxation department. The step will at long last bring them in the motor vehicles’ tax net, of which they were defaulters since the last several years.
Around 4,000 unregistered four-wheelers and as many motorcycles belonging to the Sindh Police had been running on roads without the standardised embossed number plates.
These vehicles included SUVs, Corollas, police mobiles, Suzuki Bolan, Cultus, Mehran as well as motorcycles that were being used by police personnel of various ranks. The mere fact that they were unregistered posed a major security risk as they could not be traced, located or even distinguished from vehicles with fake police number plates.
“Some people from the department were using private cars with fake police number plates and the public had copied the practice,” said a senior police official, on the condition of anonymity. “Even today, there are hundreds of cars and bikes with fake police number plates in the city.”
According to sources, these vehicles had been running on the roads since many years but had not been registered. They had never even paid the motor vehicle tax and the arrears had exceeded Rs800 million. The finance department, on the other hand, had failed to provide funds for the registration of these vehicles and to pay the taxes.
The Citizens’ Trust against Crime (CTAC), a non-governmental organisation, is working with the police to clampdown on vehicles that are unregistered or may have irregularities in their documentation or number plates. It was the CTAC whose constant efforts compelled the police department to get its vehicles registered.
“You have no right to order people to register their vehicles and get standard number plates when you don’t adhere to the rules yourself,” said Nazim Haji, a member of CTAC, and one of the main people behind the registration process.
Subsequently, the government decided to register these vehicles through the book adjustment process, under which the funds needed for the task will be managed and fixed in the government record books. The registration of the police vehicles started in March this year and approximately 8,000 vehicles have been registered so far.
The excise and taxation department, however, has failed to provide standardised number plates to almost 60 per cent of these newly-registered vehicles. Those who have received the plates can be seen on the roads with numbers such as SP-123A. The standard number plates of the police are blue in colour, with the number embossed and written in white.
Haji expressed displeasure with the excise and taxation department for failing to provide the plates on time. “This issue has long been under discussion and the plates were booked four months ago. Without standard number plates, the whole exercise will be pointless as the vehicles are recognised from their plates.”
Haji blamed the department’s new project of bringing number plates with special security features for the delay. “The department has cancelled contracts with the plates’ manufacturers due to the security featured number plates project, which is why the plates could not be provided.”
Sindh Excise and Taxation minister Mukesh Kumar Chawla confirmed that 3,500 four-wheelers of the police department have been registered through book adjustment. He however, denied the claims that the security-featured number plates’ project had delayed the police vehicles plates. “We could not renew our contacts with the plate’s manufacturers due to the end of the financial year, but we will provide the plates immediately after Eid.”
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2014.