inistry of Transport and Public Works has condemned motorists driving vehicles without registration number plates in the country.
The Nation spot-checks established that most of the culprits driving vehicles without number plates are politically-connected persons, including some presidential aides. At check-points, traffic police officers are usually seen waving such vehicles to pass while being tough on law-abiding motorists.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, the ministry’s Principal Secretary Hastings Chiudzu said it is an offence to use a vehicle not registered or without number plates on public roads.
Reads the statement in part: “It is against the foregoing that the Ministry of Transport and Public Works through the Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Services in conjunction with the Ministry of Homeland Security through the Malawi Police Service [traffic police] would like to inform all motor vehicle owners that they have intensified enforcement exercises in respect of unregistered motor vehicles and vehicles that fail to display number plates.”
Regulation 19(11) of the Road Traffic (Registration and Licensing) and Regulations 2000 stipulates that the owner of any motor vehicle shall affix its number plate from the date of registration.
The law states that failure to abide by these provisions attracts a fine or the vehicle can be impounded.
In a written response, Directorate of Road Traffic and Safety Service spokesperson Angelina Makwecha said using vehicles without a number plate poses security threat to the country.
She said the department has intensified enforcement exercises to remove all vehicles without number plates.
“The act poses security concern as the vehicle cannot be identified and it will be difficult to trace it if involved in criminal activities or hit and run,” said Makwecha.
Mzuzu University security studies lecturer Aubrey Kabisala and road safety expert Chifwede Hara said number plates are affixed on vehicles for identity.
Kabisala said the problem comes in when the driver of such a vehicle commits a crime as it is difficult to trace or identify the car.
He said: “Some criminals can follow you up to your house gate and hijack your car while you are waiting for someone to open the gate. If you were to report the case to police, how would you describe the car?”
Kabisala said government officials who use vehicles without number plates for security purposes should have two different registration numbers of the same vehicle.
Hara noted that vehicles without number plates are not declared roadworthy and it is difficult to know if they passed through all clearing processes.
He noted that some senior government officials use vehicles without number plates to misuse them.
Prior to 2019 Tripartite Elections, Democratic Progressive Party followers, mostly the party’s youths, were driving in cities with cars affixed with plates bearing different tags promoting former president Peter Mutharika.