NTSA’s quick U-turn on new number plates raises concern

Monday May 27 2019

new generation number plates

Sample of new generation number plate. A last-minute change of plan in the provision of new generation number plates by the National Transport and Safety Authority has raised eyebrows. FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

EDWIN OKOTH
By EDWIN OKOTH
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A last-minute change of plan in the provision of new generation number plates by the National Transport and Safety Authority has raised eyebrows.

There are concerns that the process, which has dragged on for years, could be facing yet another legal hurdle.

After a lengthy court case that eventually compelled the Interior Ministry to award the contract to the firm it had engaged in April 2014, the decision by NTSA to restart the process sinks the plan deeper into confusion.

Last week, State Department for Correctional Services PS Zeinab Hussein told the National Assembly Committee on Administration and National Security that a delegation had been sent to three countries to devise ways that would ensure the issuing of the plates involves local players.

“We have sent a team to three countries to design a system that uses local materials to produce the digitised number plates by January 2020,” Ms Hussein said.

LENGTHY PROCESS

The move comes at the tail end of a lengthy process that had seen NTSA and the ministry committed in documents to approve the supply of the plates, raising eyebrows on the about-turn.

NTSA Director-General Francis Meja did not respond to queries when he revealed plans to circumvent the legal hurdles in starting a new deal while abandoning an existing contract.

Documents show a series of events from February 2015 when the ministry advertised the tender to supply and deliver number plate blanks and hot stamping foils.

Tropical Technologies Ltd won both tenders, sparking a battle at the High Court and before the Procurement Review Board.

In August 2017, the High Court was the last to dismiss the challenges on the award. The ministry then awarded the contract to the firm, sealed by the signing of the agreement in November of the same year.

The company, according to the local purchase orders seen by the Nation, has even delivered two 40ft containers of blank plates at Kamiti Maximum Security Prison.

Last year, the ministry again advertised for the supply of the licence plate-marking machine and awarded the tender to Tropical Technologies Ltd on June 11, 2018.

After this, everything froze. No contract was issued and the long silence was only revived last month with Mr Meja saying the government was looking for an alternative route.

It is not clear what may have transpired between the time the last award was given to the firm and the latest move to seek an alternative supplier.

Mr Meja, in a June 5 letter, approved of the samples the firm took to NTSA which had nominated two members as part of the evaluation, negotiation, inspection and acceptance committee.