The Government of Uganda through the ministries of Works and Transport and Security has officially launched the digital number plates project.
Dubbed the Intelligent Transport Management Systems program (ITMS), the government hopes the 10-year project, which installs digital tracking chips in all automobile number plates registered in the country, will resolve security issues.
It will be managed by Joint Stock Company Global Security, a Russian firm.
Speaking at the launch in Kampala on Wednesday, Works and Transport Minister Gen Katumba Wamala said the primary benefit of rolling out Safety and control of motor-vehicle-related criminality.
Gen Katumba motor vehicle-related criminality is on the rise in the country and pledged that the innovation will curb the trend.
“The ITMS Project will deter theft of motor vehicles & vehicle related criminality thru enhanced traceability, tracking & real-time feedback from the Police Command Centre,” he said.
“It will discourage reckless driving due to monitoring thru the CCTV Camera network enhancing enforcement,” he added.
Gen Katumba noted that the initial phase will involve government vehicles, allowing officials to gauge the effectiveness of the new digital number plates before extending the implementation to the general public. He added that following a successful trial, the program will be extended to motorcycles, particularly Bodaboda operators within the capital city.
According to the program, the rolling out of new number plates was supposed to be in three phases, starting with government vehicles, then newly registered ones, and later the old ones that are already on the road. Acquiring the digital plate New number plates will cost 714,300 while changing numbers will cost 150,000 shillings.
Engineer Karim Kibuuka, who is responsible for the number plate serialization, revealed that the new system includes 16 categories of number plates, an increase from the previous 12. This expanded range encompasses plates for Honorary Consulars, United Nations vehicles, and Uganda Prisons, among others.
He also cautioned users not to tamper with installed number plates and also made it clear that accidental tampering with the digital number plate should be reported to the Chief licensing officer within 24 hours.
“A person who intentionally tampers with the installed number plate commits an offense and shall be liable to a fine on condition to a fine not exceeding One hundred currency points or imprisonment not exceeding one year or both,” he said.
“The ITMS will be able to detect illegal removal of installed number plates. Registration plates will only be removed only upon seeking authorization from the chief licensing officer and on a justified cause.” He added.
Kibuuka said that the combination of numbers and letters on the new number plates has increased from seven to nine characters to accommodate the expanded nomenclature.
For government vehicles, the numbering format has also changed. Instead of alphabets, they will now bear a three-digit code, such as thirty-eight for the Ministry of Works, and he explained that this was done due to a shortage of available alphabet combinations.
Jim Muhwezi, the Minister of Security, said that the new number plates will control many crimes including overspeeding, criminals using vehicles for illicit intentions, and vehicle theft.