New car owners waiting for licence plates for two years

The excise department issues orange-coloured licence plates to every vehicles registered in the province. These official plates have not been issued in the past two years. PHOTO: FILE
KARACHI: If you bought a new car in the past two years, chances are that you have been driving without the government-issued licence plate.

It is also quite likely that the traffic police have repeatedly fined you for the offence as their drive against unregistered licence plates continues unabated despite the excise and taxation department’s (E&TD) failure to provide the official plates in the last two years.

According to Sindh E&TD deputy director Shahabuddin Khatri, the number of cars they have registered without giving official licence plates has probably gone in millions. “This is happening due to a tussle between the two companies who went to the court once the tender was issued last year,” he said. The department had invited tenders from private companies to award the contract for the manufacture of official licence plates. One of the companies claimed in court that the tender was issued on the basis of favouritism. The judges gave a stay order and, since then, the department has not been able to award the contract.

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Irked buyers

The tussle has, subsequently, created trouble for new buyers who have to resort to temporary licence plates that always catch the attention of the traffic police. “I have a slip that carries the [E&TD] stamp claiming that no licence plate was issued,” said Asif Siddiqui, who bought a car in September this year. “But it doesn’t always work when dealing with the traffic police.”

The department’s deputy director insisted that their stamped receipt should allow drivers to evade the police.

The traffic police deployed on the roads have been told not to fine vehicles without the official licence plate as long as they have the official E&TD stamp, said Muhammad Idrees, the reader for Traffic DIG Amir Ahmed Shaikh. The numbers must match the ones on the official registration book, he said. The police will, however, continue to take action against those vehicles that have replaced original licence plates with fancy ones, he added.

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Piling numbers

The number of vehicles being registered by the department is increasing over time. On Friday alone, the E&TD registered 619 motorcycles and 200 cars, said the department’s office superintendent, Ismail Chandio. On average, 1,500 vehicles are registered every day, he said, adding that the current registration for cars is at the ‘BET’ series.

“Once we restart issuing number plates, there will be millions of plates in the backlog,” Chandio admitted, adding that it will be a strenuous task. “We will initially issue number plates to fresh buyers and then start giving them to the old ones, gradually.”

Until the official plates are issued, new car owners are buying them from sellers in the Civic Centre parking area. “One can go there and get a number plate easily” said Chandio.

Hope for next year

The new year is likely to bring some good news. According to All Pakistan Motor Dealers Association chairperson HM Shahzad, the E&TD secretary and the director-general assured them that the process will start after January 15. Right now, people are just registering their vehicles with the car dealers, he said.

“It becomes our responsibility to register the vehicle we are selling and that’s why our customer comes to us not the excise department,” he said. Shahzad also claimed the real tussle was caused by the former secretary of the department, who wanted to issue the tender to his favourite company. Khatri denied, however these claims and insisted the delay is only being caused as the court issued a stay order.