Kenya: Motor Vehicle Licences to Be Verified Online

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The government has developed an automated system to verify the authenticity of transport vehicle licences, putting the brakes on cartels that have thrived from the sale of counterfeits.

Supported by mobile phone technology, the system is already on trial among vehicles registered by the Transport Licensing Board (TLB). The registrar of motor vehicles, Francis Meja, said Tuesday that those seeking to confirm the authenticity of their documents can send their licence serial numbers to a short text message (SMS) number 5456.

The automated system would then provide a feedback on the status of the licence, based on the official records at the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA). "Response from TLB registered vehicles is fabulous and we hope to launch the system soon and extend it to all categories of vehicles and driving licences," Meja told a meeting in Nairobi between the Transport ministry and members of the Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Public Works and Housing.

Transport Minister Amos Kimunya said the new system has triggered a rush among transport vehicle owners seeking authentic documents."In the past one month alone we have received applications for about 200,000 vehicles, which points to the effectiveness of the system," he told the forum.

Cartels have been reaping from the sale of counterfeit documents such as road and drivers' licences, with motorists acquiring fake driving licences for as little as Sh1,000 without formal training.

Corruption has been blamed for the high number of accidents on major roads and highways across the country. Meja said all applications would be uploaded into a centralised database to assist in the transition towards the smart-card technology based second generation driving licences. The database already has 2.9 million registered drivers and 1.4 million vehicles. "It will be easier to transfer the information we already have into the digital cards," he said.