The long-awaited new number plates with enhanced security features were launched today with the government hailing them as critical in fighting crime.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i said the new plates that will be launched with the KDK… series for newly-registered vehicles and on October 1st, 2022 to replace existing ones, will introduce the missing link in the securitization of motor vehicle registration.

The plates will also put Kenya in the list of countries that are compliant with the the Vienna Traffic Conventions on global standards for number plates including look-and-feel features. They will also meet the requirements of local legal requirements under the Traffic Act 2016.

Speaking at the Government-owned facility that is making the plates in Ruiru, Matiang’i who was accompanied by his Cabinet colleagues James Macharia (Transport) and Joe Mucheru (ICT) said the new features will make it difficult to fake number plates.

“Criminals have been driving cars around with number plates that were initially issued to tractors. There are many bankers that have been left holding logbooks registered in a fraudulent manner since they cannot trace the vehicles used as collateral,” he said.

The synchronisation of vehicle registration will put an end to auto theft and tax evasion and seal loopholes for rampant fraud in the banking sector where criminals forge registration details to secure collateral-based loans.

The CS described the new plates as a masterstroke that will make it difficult for motor theft syndicates thriving in duplication and faking of number plates.

According to the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), the new plates will incorporate microchip technology and several anti-counterfeit security features that will render them practically impossible to imitate.

Besides unique template, they’ll feature a specially-imprinted national flag, hologram, watermark, unique and different serial numbers for rear and front plates that are linked to the vehicle’s chassis number and a customized font.

The smart plates, which will be easily identifiable to law enforcement officers, will also store information such as year of manufacturer, type and colour of vehicle, engine number, transmission type, date and place of manufacture, and insurance details.

Dr. Matiang’i noted the new number plates will be especially useful in combating terrorism and organized crime.

“When we were hit during Dusit 2, it was because terrorists gained vehicles and acquired number plates in a fraudulent manner, and it was very difficult to trace them within the time they were around..”

The chain of registration will require building a database of all the vehicles registered right at the point of entry and linking the databases of the NTSA and the National Police Service to make it difficult to trade in motor vehicles that are stolen from other countries.

The new plates will cost Ksh.3000 with the government as the sole manufacturer in what CS Matiang’i said was a measure to control quality and lock out cartels. The Government hopes to have phased out existing plates within 18 months.

Transport CS Macharia said the Ministry gazetted Traffic (Registration Plates) Rules in 2016 to cover all types of registration plates, their usage, and application processes to reform the industry.

The rules prohibit the manufacture or sale of reflective registration plates or third registration plates licenses without the written consent of the Authority.

However, regulatory compliance challenges have exposed the soft underbelly of the sector as a potential breeding ground for organized crime.

The existing plates lack adequate security features thereby making it difficult for enforcement agencies to identify the illegal ones being churned out by backstreet enterprises.

CS Macharia added that the new plates are long overdue as the government seeks to streamline the industry, which has seen an influx of motor vehicles in the recent past. The number of automobiles has risen to 4.8 million up from 3.2 million three years ago.

The new generation plates will cover all automobiles , including motorbikes and three-wheelers, trailers and tractors, whether private or government-owned, and those used by diplomats and international organizations.

The event was attended by Principal Secretaries Dr. Karanja Kibicho, Safina Kwekwe, Joseph Njoroge and Commissioner General of Prisons Brigadier (Rtd) John Warioba.