Parliament orders CVR to urgently sort out number plates’ shortage mess

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By Anna Chibamu

PARLIAMENT has ordered the Central Vehicle Registry (CVR) department to sort out the mess created by the shortage of number plates amid an ongoing police blitz on vehicle owners driving without displaying any plates.

Parliament’s transport committee Monday toured the CVR offices in central Harare on a fact-finding mission on the shortage of number plates in the country.

Committee chairperson Oscar Gorerino grilled CVR Registrar George Makoni on why police were impounding vehicles that had no number plates, yet the department did not have enough plates to meet the demand.

“Police are charging people hefty fines for nothing. They should stop impounding vehicles until they have enough plates.

“Tell them (police) parliament is not happy with the way the plates’ issue is being handled. They should work with CVR department and listen to what the officials say. We do not want you to look stupid in front of us,” Gorerino told Makoni.

Makoni pleaded with the committee to intervene in the arrests of people who had money to buy plates but were being abused due to the current shortages.

“Police can arrest those who do not display their temporary identification cards (TICs) and not those who have made applications and paid for the plates. Why are you taking money from the public if you do not have enough plates,” Gorerino fumed.

According to Makoni, more than 80 000 vehicles in the country were being driven no number plates.

“CVR does not have enough plates. Currently 34 000 plates are available for issuance since July 2020 against a backlog of 57 000 applications when we received components. Delays were due to Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdown,” Makoni told the committee.

He also said foreign currency shortages had resulted in the department failing to meet demand.

“Of the US$1 million requested in December, 2017, €85 000 and US$500 000 had been received in August 2018 and December 2019 respectively and another US$200 000 received in December 2017 whilst US$700 000 requested recently from Finance ministry was still pending,” stated the Registrar.

Makoni highlighted that a complete plate set costs US$22 and CVR is charging US$80 per applicant on a set of plates.

The MPs demanded to know the breakdown of the expenses saying this was too expensive for vehicle owners.

“Why are you charging in foreign currency when people are earning in Zimbabwe dollars?” a committee member asked.

The registrar however said people owning vehicles were buying the cars in foreign currency, hence the payment of plates in the same currency which the committee condemned as being unfair.

Gorerino also took a swipe at some corrupt CVR officials who were taking bribes from desperate motorists seeking to quicken the process of collecting plates.