A motorist affixes a number plate on his vehicle in this file photo.
PHILIPSBURG--Motor vehicle owners will no longer be required to change their licence plates annually in the future, as plans are in the pipeline to phase out plates and replace them with stickers equipped with QR codes that can be scanned to determine whether motorists are up to date with their motor vehicle tax payments.
Currently, government has begun a pilot programme to eliminate the need to renew licence plates annually, Finance Minister Ardwell Irion informed Parliament recently. He was responding at the time to questions from a member of parliament (MP) who asked, during the draft 2022 budget debate, about the phasing out of licence plates in 2023; whether it is budgeted and what the savings will be.
Irion said the Ministry has already engaged with one of its major stakeholders in the justice system for feedback on the pilot programme and positive feedback was given. By July 2022 the Ministry will have sufficient data to confirm whether the pilot project will be ready for 2023.
Irion said now that the payment of motor vehicle tax has been placed online, which he hopes everyone makes use of, the ministry was looking at what the next step would be. Given that there had been long-standing complaints in the community about the annual changing of number plates, this was looked at.
“What we did was we took advantage of the current technology, so the DCC [Digital COVID Certificate technology – Ed.] from COVID, the whole QR Code concept – we took that concept and we built upon that,” Irion said. “We currently have an app built for the Ministry of Finance. … It says official road tax app,” he said, adding that the app is now in the BETA phase.
“We had a meeting … with the Justice Ministry regarding this app and how we can use it with the Justice Ministry,” Irion said, adding that 10 police officers will be able to use the app to control vehicles in the pilot phase.
For the pilot, a special sticker will be placed on 50 government vehicles. Ten fake stickers will also be placed on other vehicles. The size of the stickers has been reduced (compared to the stickers used in 2020). The stickers have a QR code on them. During a two-month trial period, officers will control the vehicles and scan them using the app. Information on the vehicle and its owner as well as information on whether the motor vehicle tax has been paid will immediately pop up when the vehicle is scanned.
This new method is a more effective form of control and it would mean that police officers will then be able to spend more time doing other things that need their attention. “Controlling the motor vehicle tax payments can be done more efficiently with this method.”
The ministry is looking into updating the software in the cameras on the public roadways to be able to read the QR codes on the stickers when a vehicle is being operated. When the QR code is read, information on the vehicle will pop up in the system and will indicate whether or not a vehicle is up to date with its road tax payment.
The system can also be set to automatically send an email to the vehicle owner informing them that they are not up to date with their motor vehicle tax payment. Another feature that can be enabled is for the same message to be sent to the motor vehicle owner's WhatsApp number.
It was suggested during the recent meeting with the Justice Ministry that the colour of the stickers be changed annually to facilitate easier controls.