Freeman Razemba Crime Reporter
Twelve post offices and seven Zimra tax offices will today start distributing the bulk of the 12 183 sets of number plates now available, with just a small batch going through the Central Vehicle Registry as Government moves swiftly to decentralise the issuing of plates.
As the police continued their weekend blitz yesterday against vehicles without valid number plates, with 2 238 drivers arrested by Sunday night and most of their vehicles impounded, it was announced that a supply chain of new plates was now established with 12 183 sets already available, another 25 000 sets available on Thursday next week and 100 000 on order.
Of the 12 183 sets presently available, 5 498 have been assigned to Zimpost and another 5 985 to Zimra with just 700 kept for the Central Vehicle Registry.
Four post offices — Causeway and Southerton in Harare plus Chitungwiza and Bulawayo — are joined today by the post offices at Mutare Main, Rusape, Bindura, Marondera, Chinhoyi, Masvingo, Victoria Falls and Hwange.
The Zimra tax offices issuing plates are those at Kurima House in Harare, Masvingo, Victoria Falls, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and Beitbridge, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure Development said yesterday.
CVR will soon be responsible only for issuing number plates to corporates, Government departments, diplomats and the replacement of lost number plates.
Private vehicle owners will buy and collect their sets from post offices and tax offices near their homes in all provinces.
Demand for plates is high and has become urgent as the police launched a blitz at the weekend against unregistered and plate-less vehicles with 2 238 drivers arrested by Sunday night and many having their vehicles impounded.
Police checkpoints are also checking the “third number plate”, the small sticker on the windscreen that cannot be peeled off, to ensure that the driver they have stopped is not using the plates from another car to pass through the roadblock. Both plates and the sticker have to agree.
Yesterday Transport and Infrastructural Development Minister Felix Mhona said his ministry fully supported the blitz by law enforcement agencies following prior warnings to the public to register their vehicles.
“The Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development would like to inform motorists and the nation at large that the country has adequate number plates in stock and these are issued by the CVR and its agencies namely Zimra and Zimpost.
“The ministry would like to assure the nation that another batch of 25 000 number plates will be available from January 27, adding to the current stocks to meet the demand.
“The ministry notes that a number of car dealers are not registering motor vehicles on import which they then sell unregistered to clients. This is against the law as a motor vehicle is required to be registered upon entry in the name of the car dealer. Exemption is only given to those with bonded warehouses. Temporary number plates are only valid for 14 days,” Minister Mhona said.
“The ministry also notes the tendency by citizens not to collect their number plates even after paying for them. Currently we have 1 100 sets of number plates that have been processed and are ready for collection. The public is advised to check with CVR and collect their number plates.”
The minister said some motorists were disadvantaging others by not collecting their number plates after paying while in other cases some CVR officials were also being involved in corrupt tendencies, which the ministry is dealing with and officials will be moved once investigations have been completed.
“In conclusion, the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructural Development would like to assure the motoring public of the adequacy of number plates in the country. The ministry further informs the public that the blitz on unregistered vehicles will continue until compliance is achieved. After the road blitz, enforcement agencies will proceed to car sales and dealerships to ensure that they also comply,” said Minister Mhona.
Police arrested 1 270 drivers of unregistered, plate-less and unlicensed vehicles on Sunday during the ongoing nationwide operation aimed at getting rid of criminal elements and making all motorists comply with registration, insurance and licensing laws, bringing the total number to 2 238 for the weekend.
National police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirmed the arrests.
The operation came after an increase in crime perpetrated by some motorists with unregistered cars. According to police there is no special exemption for anyone, including Government vehicles to move around without any registration number plates.
Police were also deeply concerned by the deliberate disregard of road traffic regulations by drivers of unregistered vehicles and those without number plates.
Unregistered and plate-less vehicles are also being used to commit crimes such as robberies, murder, kidnapping, rape and other serious crimes.
All vehicles that do not display the standard number plates or temporary identification cards will be impounded and processed through referral to courts and payment of fines.
Meanwhile, the ZRP reports that on Sunday alone, a total of 2 653 people were arrested for various offences related to Covid-19.
Since March last year, a total of 1 447 510 have been arrested for Covid-19 violations countrywide.
A total of 534 people were also arrested on “Operation No to Cross Border Crimes/ Fhasi Ngamilandu Yamukanoni Yamashango/Mhosva Pamiganhu Ngadzipere/Amacala Kawaphele Emingceleni Yelizwe”. The cumulative number of arrests stands at 96 054.