Operation on smart licences to resume

Johansen Assistant Commissioner of Police, Johansen Kahatano

At least 500,000 registered motor vehicles are operated by drivers whose still hold old licenses while the deadline for them to acquire new ones is almost near.

This was revealed by Assistant Commissioner of Police Johansen Kahatano in Dar es Salaam yesterday when briefing journalist on the assessment of implementation of the exercise.

Drivers are supposed to get the computerised licenses by March 31, this year, according to the National Road Traffic Act, 2002.

The operation launched in October 2010 to replace the old licences, was aimed at improving records of drivers’ details relating to skills in driving and in follow ups when accidents occur.

According to Khatano, the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) database indicates that until December 31, last year, about 1,164,574 motor vehicles operating in the country had been registered.

However, the most challenging thing is that only 616,349 smart card licenses had been issued by the agency leaving a gap of 548,225.

“We believe that there are more drivers who are still using old driving licenses while some in the group could own forged ones,” he said.

Kahatano said it is likely that people driving those vehicles might have old or no licenses, and that people with driving licenses need to be more than the number of cars and motorbikes currently on the road.

The general public should not think of families owning more than one car while some vehicles are out of order, he said, adding that there are more drivers in the street and in the colleges who own computerised licenses.

The commissioner insisted however that drivers who have not acquired computerised license should immediately change their old ones before the crackdown slated for March 31, this year.

“We’re currently conducting an assessment of drivers before the start of the operation later this year…we urge all drivers in the country to observe the laid down regulations,” he said.

The Assistant Police Commissioner said implementation of the operation would help the traffic police to check nonprofessional drivers in the course of reducing road accidents.

For his part, TRA Internal Revenue deputy commissioner Yusuph Salumu said smart card licenses were issued to assist the government in income generation and revenue collection.

He stressed: “A driver is indeed required to follow all the procedures to secure a license.”

The TRA official faulted the old system adopted by the government in issuing driving license, noting that it had loopholes for forgery.

“With the new smart card, the authority can effectively monitor the number of licenses issued, and stop illegal duplication, thus contributing to the government’s coffers,” he said.

Meanwhile, Kahatano called on government officials and the security forces to obey road traffic laws by avoiding trespassing and use of services roads when it is not necessary to do so.

Early last year, the Traffic police launched a crackdown on bus drivers holding old license, stranding hundreds of upcountry bound passengers at the Ubungo Bus Terminal for hours.

In the exercise, the traffic police arrested many bus drivers who did not have new driving licenses.

Meanwhile a Dar es Salaam-based driver Masawe Masawe said a number of drivers whose licenses have not yet expired feel exploited when they are forced to go for the new ones, since they are required to pay in full for them.

Masawe said he had not secured new license because the old one has not expired and therefore he is waiting until it expires.

Edga Kyaruzi said he did not have funds to pay for the computerized license as ordered by Traffic.

“My license is still valid, so I see no need of going to change it while I don’t have money to pay for the new one,” he said.

Another driver Ramadhani Juma said that it is high time the traffic police took legal action against drivers who have not secured computerised licenses because it has been a long time since the exercise started to being implemented.

“This exercise is for our safety because it will help the traffic police to identify incompetent drivers who contribute to the increasing road accidents… there is no need to plead with them anymore. Police should take action,” Juma said.

Reacting to drivers’ concerns the Assistant Commissioner of Police Kahatano said there was no need for drivers to complicate things especially in replacing their old license with the smart cards.

“Implementation of this programme is aimed at using the new technology that helps in record keeping. When you change your old license it is replaced by a new one which gives you three years of validity,” he said adding: “Even if you remained with three months you will end up getting three fresh years.”

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