Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services (DRTSS) says it is withdrawing vehicle registration numbers with a ‘B’ prefix and will issue owners new registration numbers free of charge.
The directorate has admitted that the code, which raised eyebrows in a country where people are used to double prefix codes, was erroneously issued out by the system at the initial stage of implementing the new Malawi Traffic Information System (MaItis).
In a notice published on Tuesday, DRTSS said motorists with the ‘B’ code would be informed of the reassignment/return of their registration numbers as and when they present the vehicle in question for certificate of fitness (CoF) or change of ownership or any other road traffic transaction at any DRTSS office.
Reads the notice: “Do not, therefore, be alarmed or anxious when you are informed of the reassignment of your registration take note that the registration number reassignment/return will not attract any charge. As such, you are not expected to pay any fee whatsoever.”
According to DRTSS, there will also be no charge for embossment of number plates for vehicles affected by the new development.
DRTSS spokesperson Chisomo Chibwaba said she did not have the number of vehicles assigned the B registration handy.
But our calculations show that at K15 000 (about $23) per registration, for a modest figure of 2 000 vehicles given the ‘B’ prefix registration, the development means that the directorate will forego about K30 million (about $45 000) in potential revenue to reissue new registration numbers.
On the other hand, the embosser of number plates will lose over K50 million (about $75 100) from the over 2 000 estimated vehicles at K25 000 (about $38) per set of plates.
MaItis has been operational since June last year and experienced teething problems such as congestion and poor network. However, DRTSS has become a star performer in the public service reforms programme which government is implementing in the public sector owing to the Maltis innovation.