The Consumers Association of Malawi (Cama) wants the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) to consider giving motorists that have not registered their vehicles into the Malawi Traffic Information System (Maltis) three more years before the motorists start paying a fee to the Malawi Revenue Authority (MRA) for them to register the vehicles.
Maltis became operational in May 2015 and the window of migrating data for motor vehicles from the old DRTSS system to the new one was closed on July 21 this year.
The new system, which connects online DRTSS to commercial banks, Malawi Police Service (MPS) and MRA, is aimed at resolving numerous functional problems the DRTSS was facing.
But implementation of Maltis—which captures processes and stores traffic information for issuance of and renewal of drivers’ licences, motor vehicle licences, certificates of fitness (CoF), road permits and weighbridge data—has faced a lot of criticisms mainly due to congestion caused by slow services at its centres in Blantyre and Lilongwe.
The slow services have been due to flaws of the system, DRTSS staff not being conversant with the system, power outages, lack of vehicle inspection space, high aptitude test failure, and inadequate equipment, such as computers and scanners and delay in change of ownership.
Following lapse of the window for migration, the directorate has given the MRA the mandate to start registering all the vehicles that have not been recorded in Maltis.
But Cama executive director John Kapito says motorists should be given more time and said three years was reasonable time for the process.
He said there has not been much publicity on the matter to the public.
Said Kapito: “I have not heard about the closure dates for registration of cars that are not in the DTRSS systems. So, how much was the publicity to a common man?”
Kapito wondered why the department wants to punish people who are willing to pay even after the closing date.
“DRTSS is supposed to be an office that encourages people to follow regulations for government to collect more revenue for the development of the country,” he said.
However, DRTSS director Jacques Manong’a said on Tuesday the directorate has the mandate to implement any decision as prescribed in the laws that govern it and maintained that all the vehicles that have not been presented at DRTSS, but are operational will have to be reintroduced to the MRA in two weeks time and if they are not registered, they will be deemed not existing.
In a telephone interview, Manong’a said all that the directorate wants is to have all the cars in the country introduced in the new system to bring sanity on the roads.
“After this exercise, even our police officers will no longer require the assistance of Interpol to intercept suspicious vehicles,” he said.
Manong’a said for one to register his or her car at MRA, they will be required to buy an import licence at K5 000 if the vehicle is for own use and the charges will be higher for the rest of the cars in other categories and at MRA the owners of the vehicles will also be asked to pay various charges depending on the car type, size of engine and year of make.
“The window has been open since May 2015 with the view that all vehicles will have been presented at the DRTSS by May 2016 as per the legal requirement of one year vehicle inspection,” he said.
The new system was implemented after government instituted a new Road Traffic Law in 1997 which, among other things, aimed at resolving shortfalls in the legal framework and providing adoption of modern techniques in traffic management and control in order to root out rampant traffic indiscipline.
According to Manong’a, there are about 52 000 vehicles plying on the Malawi roads that are not yet in Maltis. n