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Revelations that some employees of the National Transport and Safety Authority are ‘cloning’ number plates and fraudulently registering cars for sale is quite damning but not entirely surprising.

The practice is widespread and historical. Car registration and number plate allocation are perennially characterised by corrupt deals.

When the government created the NTSA not so long ago, the primary objective was to eliminate dubious transactions in regard to motor vehicle registration.

Previously, the process of registering vehicles, issuing number plates, processing driving licences and others was made quite difficult by the respective departments, and precisely for the reason of creating opportunities for bribery.

Conversely, an independent authority was established to manage those tasks and ensure efficiency and transparency.

However, as it transpires, that seems not to have worked.

The issue at hand has come to light in the course of the investigations to establish the owners of the vehicles used by the terrorists who attacked the Dusit complex in Nairobi a fortnight ago.

Evidence obtaining shows that some crooked NTSA employees work in cahoots with scheming staffers at Kenya Revenue Authority, criminals and rogue insurance brokers to falsify documents, create duplicate number plates and register the vehicles.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg. The chain is long, bold and entrenched.


Independent investigations indicate that duplicate number plates are easily available in downtown Nairobi and other cities.

Organised gangs operate shops and offices that principally create duplicate or fake number plates, licences and other vital documents such as national identity cards and passports.

Security officers are pretty aware of these fellows but hardly tackle them as they pay bribes for protection.

However, the magnitude of the problem is coming out and must be tackled urgently.

Duplicate or fake number plates pose a serious threat to legitimate vehicle owners.

They expose them to grave danger in the sense that they can be mistakenly shot or arrested when a crime is committed using vehicles with similar registration details as theirs.

Secondly, it denies the government revenue that accrues through registration. This is because it is the rogue NTSA and KRA officials and their accomplices who benefit from the transactions.

Investigations into the scam must be intensified and expanded to rein in all those involved and stop the practice.

Here is a case of a threat to national security and also economic sabotage that must dealt with conclusively. The suspects must be arrested and charged in court and those found culpable punished.