Durban - The DA has criticised the provincial government’s decision to change number plates to “KZN” without proper consultations, when the focus should be on maintaining a safe driving environment.

DA MPL Radley Keys said yesterday that he was appalled that the proposal to change licence plates had gone through the executive committee without the transport portfolio committee being consulted, and he called it a “slap in the face of the motoring public”.

“This reflects the disdain the executive has for the legislature and its committees. The proposal has serious financial implications for all road users in our province, but the executive has decided to go ahead without reference to the legislature,” he said.

Keys was reacting to a report this week in which the Transport Department’s spokesman, Kwanele Ncalane, confirmed that the cabinet had approved its plan to require motorists to acquire new, provincial number plates to replace the current town-specific plates.

The department was now seeking permission from the national department to develop an operational plan for the roll-out. Keys said the introduction of new number plates would merely mask the crisis the province faced. KZN had the highest number of deaths of any province over the festive season.

He said that the motivation for the change, according to Ncalane, was that it would reduce lawlessness on the roads and help identify vehicles. But, said Keys, the answer was rather effective policing and law enforcement.

While it was known that there was rampant fraud in the registration of KZN vehicles in other provinces, an investigation to stop this was halted by Transport MEC Willies Mchunu “under the pretext that correct procedures were not followed”, he claimed. -The Mercury