By Aashish Mishra
Kathmandu, Feb. 17: The Department of Transport Management (DoTM) is planning to make the embossed number plate mandatory for all vehicles.
All government vehicles have already been asked to obtain embossed plates by March 13. The department is now looking to expand its scope and make the new license plates mandatory for all new motor vehicles, informed Director Ram Chandra Poudel.
“We are discussing making embossed number plates compulsory for all new vehicles right from their registration,” Poudel told The Rising Nepal, adding, “We will start with new vehicles and then gradually ask the owners of older vehicles to get their number plates changed too. There will be an orderly system for that.”
DoTM began distributing this ‘advanced type number plate’ in Bagmati Province from July last year. Since then, 5,600 vehicles have acquired them.
According to Poudel, this number plate is safer and more secure than the traditional hand-painted ones. They come equipped with microchips that will enable the government to maintain uniformity in the issuance of number plates and prevent forgery and duplication. They will also help authorities maintain digital records of vehicles plying the roads, collect taxes in time and control criminal activities involving automobiles.
“A simple scan of the license plate will reveal everything there is to know about a particular vehicle,” Poudel said. “This will be convenient and beneficial for both owners and regulators.” He added that the implementation of embossed number plates would be in everyone’s interests.
The plan to introduce the number plates is more than a decade old – first being included in the three-year interim plan of 2007. But the process stalled in 2010 after the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) began investigating a number of alleged irregularities.
The government again tried to implement it in 2017 based on a changed number system that matched the federal setup of the country. But questions were raised about the use of English letters and numbers. Various linguists, activists and the Nepal Academy called on DoTM to use Devanagari and on February 23, 2018, the Supreme Court issued an interim order to stop the issuance of the plates. The court only cleared DoTM to move forward with the process in December 2019.
“The demand to use Devanagari may be valid but to do so now would be cost and time intensive,” Poudel explained. “To issue the number plates in Nepali, we would have to completely reset the system and start from scratch and this would be expensive and time-consuming.”
“The use of English is also more practical as it is the international language,” he added. “This will ensure Nepal’s compatibility with global systems.”
As informed by the DoTM, vehicle owners will have to fill an online form from the department’s website, clear all their taxes and deposit the specified amount in the department’s bank account to obtain the high-security plates. Owners of two-wheelers are required to deposit Rs. 2,500 while owners of three-wheelers are required to deposit Rs. 2,900. For four-wheelers vehicles, the amount is Rs. 3,200 and for heavy vehicles, it is Rs. 3,600.
The number plates are being distributed from the Transport Management Office in Gurjudhara for two-wheelers, the Vehicle Fitness Test Centre in Teku for three-wheelers and small and medium four-wheelers, the Transport Management Office in Ekantakuna for heavy vehicles and the DoTM office in Minbhawan for government vehicles.