The department, which has received millions of rupees from citizens seeking number plates, has not paid the contractor for making of computerised number plates, sources said.
“Had we been paid on time, we would have completed the task,” the owner of the company said.
The E&T department receives Rs1,000 for a car number plate and Rs485 for that of a motorcycle.
“The Punjab government may blacklist the company over the failure of the delivery,” an official said. He said the department had cancelled agreement with the firm on February 28, 2011. However, some other sources in the E&T claimed the company was being considered for re-awarding the contract. The motorists have been making a litany of complaints but to no avail. A motorist, Zeshan, said he has been waiting for the number plate of his car for the past two months. A motorcyclist, Irfan, said that he has been driving his bike without number plate for the past two weeks and he has been ‘advised’ by E&T officials to get a manual plate from some private shop. “Why should I pay to a private manufacturer since I have paid to E&T for the purpose?”
According to a source in the E&T office, more than 250,000 people have been awaiting computerised registration plates – including 4,500 of the LED 2011 series, 8,000 of LEE 2011, 4,500 of LE 2012 and 2,500 of LEA 2012.
Only 5,000 number plates of the LED 2011 series, which started in September, and of the LE 2012 series, which started in January, have been issued, said the source. Most of the LEN 2012 (January) and LEO 2012 (February) series for motorbikes were yet to be issued number plates, he said.
Agents sitting outside E&T office said that motorists have to pay extra amount to get number plates early.
Around 250 number plates of the LED 2011 and LEA 2012 series of cars, the LEG and LEJ series for government and semi-government vehicles, and the LEO 2012 series of bikes were issued to vehicle owners at the E&T offices in Defence and at Fareedkot House on February 27. On receiving complaints of the corruption in the computerised number plates (CNP) project, the department had ordered a third-party audit of this project.
The department established the CNP fund in 2006 as part of this new project to provide standardised registration plates to motorists. The fee paid by customers for a plate was set about two times more than the manufacturing cost. Excise authorities found that there was not enough money in the fund to pay off outstanding liabilities to the contractor who manufactured the plates. That was why the department had stopped issuing registration plates then. Officials had then cited a shortage of material as well.
But a senior official said millions of rupees were misappropriated from the fund. When contacted, another E&T senior officer said the issue would be resolved shortly since contracting company has pledged to end the backlog in a couple of months.