The Minister of Transport TÅ¡oeu Mokeretla and his ministryâ€™s incompetence came to the fore in Parliament yesterday as it emerged that the system managing motor vehicle registrations is not fully controlled by Lesotho under his ministry, but by a foreign South African entity.
The ministryâ€™s failure to restore registration services in Quthing has not only stimulated lamentations among the districtâ€™s motorists who are forced to travel to Mohaleâ€™s Hoek and Mafeteng to have their vehicles registered, which resultantly come bearing letters â€œEâ€ for Mafeteng and â€œFâ€ Mohaleâ€™s Hoek instead of â€œGâ€ which depicts Quthing, but also risks having the â€˜cancerâ€™ overflow to other districts.
This emerged following a question by Member of Parliament (MP) for the Tele #64 constituency Mothepu Mahapa who asked Mokeretla to enlighten the National Assembly what the problem is with governmentâ€™s vehicle registration system particularly in the Quthing district as registration services have not been available in the district since 2021 due to a faulty system, forcing motorists to opt for neighbouring districts which dissatisfies the Quthing community.
In response, Mokeretla said the mishap which was supposed to have been solved within a week last year, is a result lack of expertise to render online services for registration information system as by his ministry as such service is acquired from neighbouring South Africa through its Electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis).
He said his ministry works collaboratively with the South African Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), but the ministry does not have capacity and full control over the production of registration number plates and database.
â€œThe Ministry of Transport is aware that since November, 2021 Quthing district had a problem of car registration. Registration is done online in all districts by eNatis. The prevailing problem right now is to register new vehicles and changing number plates of already registered vehicles…The Ministry does not have full control over this corporation, when we encounter any kind of problems we have to send a message to RTMC for help. We are aware as the ministry that lately RTMC is taking long time to help us when we come across predicaments,â€ Mokeretla said.
He said when the problem initially happened, he had sent a ministry delegation comprised of the Principal Secretary and the Road Fund to Pretoria last year to discuss issues around delaying car registration and ultimately secure a solution, especially in Quthing.
â€œIt was in the very same meeting that RTMC pledged to fix all the problems within a week, attempts to resolve some problems were made but could not solve the core of the problem which gives no solution to Quthing problems, instead, the problem is likely to spread to other districts.
â€œThe ministry made introspections and was aware that returning to a manual registering of vehicles in Quthing will not bring solution but will cause problems of duplicate number plates when the vehicles are added into an electronic system,â€ he said.
He further stated that his ministry started negotiations to evacuate the Lesotho Vehicle Database and put it under the full control of Lesotho so as to timeously come up with solutions to problems.
â€œSteps to hold workshops for civil officers while prepping for arrival of the database will be completed soon.
â€œThe ministry delegation and Road Fund will be on an expedition next week to complete the negotiations of evacuating the Data Base from South Africa to Lesotho. They will also talk with RTMC on how to solve online registration of Quthing district,â€ he said.
He added that the ministry has already completed preparations with the Lesotho Mounted Police Services (LMPS) in regard to car registration, Interpol and CID clearances for Quthing vehicles to be accepted in Mohaleâ€™s Hoek and Mafeteng, but the Road Traffic Act of 1981 forces vehicles to be given numbers with letters identifying the districts they registered at.
â€œIt is for this reason why there is a challenge of Quthing cars with â€œEâ€ and â€œFâ€ registration codes.
â€œOnce this hurdle has been passed, the ministry will make an announcement that all the vehicles which have not been given registration numbers of Quthing will be given a chance to register in Quthing without paying,â€ he said.