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NEPAL NEWS: MoF clears new number plate plan

Digital License Department of Transport Management

Global tender likely to be called by government next fiscal year

Sample Digital Number Plate

The long pending plan of the government to apply embossed number plate system for vehicles is likely to start from next fiscal year. The Ministry of Finance (MoF) gave a go-ahead to the project recently, clearing the way to call a global tender.

After confusion over implementation modality and being a non-starter project for the last eight years, the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport (MoPIT) had sought the MoF's suggestion on the matter. As per MoF, a consultant that qualifies through competitive bidding and agrees to make available the modern number plates at the cheapest cost to consumers could be hired.

"Based on the approval of the MoF, we will be able to call a tender in the next fiscal year," said Nabin Kumar Pokhrel, senior divisional engineer of MoPIT. As per him, the party to be selected will also be given a fixed time to replace all existing hand-written vehicle number plates with embossed ones. The Department of Transport Management (DoTM) will implement the project.

It is estimated that there are more than two million vehicles and over 1.5 million are two-wheelers. The government has been planning to replace all hand-written vehicle number plates with embossed number plates in which there is also a plan to include radio frequency identification (RFID) chip or GPS tracking facility.

The machine-made new plates will help the government maintain uniformity in the issuance of vehicle numbers, maintain scientific record of vehicles and control auto theft, among others. Earlier, the plan to implement embossed number plate system had been included in Three-Year Interim Plan 2007-10. The Transport Management Regulation 1997, amended five years ago, had also made embossed number plates mandatory for vehicles.

However, the project had not moved ahead effectively due to causes like intervention by the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority after a report of irregularity in 2010, negligence of DoTM which is the project implementing body, delay in required study, and lack of clarity on implementation modality. The consultant will help implement the embossed number plate system based on the specifications prepared by the government.

Among others, the government is yet to decide on issues including the size, shape and colors of the plates and the method of issuance. Embossed number plate and smart card technology based driving licence projects were planned simultaneously by the government. The smart driving card licence project is in the final stage and DoTM is planning to start issuing it to the general public from early next fiscal.

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