Cayman drivers due to receive their new electronic vehicle license plates and registration window stickers are waiting weeks – even months in some cases – to get the new plates after their cars pass inspection.
Meanwhile, an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 new electronic plates are sitting in storage at the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing, awaiting pickup by drivers whose vehicles have already passed annual inspection.
“We don’t know why they aren’t coming to pick them up,” said Planning Ministry Deputy Chief Officer Tristan Hydes when asked about the delays last week.
Beginning last spring, the vehicle licensing department began the process of switching more than 45,000 vehicles from the old orange-colored license plates to new white electronic vehicle “tamper proof” tags which would allow licensing officials and residents greater ease in re-registering vehicles. The process for changing out all the license plates was expected to take up to three years.
As of last week, an estimated 16,000 vehicles operating in Cayman had been outfitted with the new electronic plates and window stickers, while owners of several thousand more vehicles that had passed inspection had not yet picked up their new tags at the department’s main office on Crewe Road.
The process to install the new vehicle tags sometimes requires an extra visit to the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing office and it appears some drivers simply have not made the trip.
At the moment, when a car using the old Cayman Islands license tags is inspected and passes, the driver can pay for the new registration period of three months, six months or a year, and will temporarily receive one of the “old” window stickers to show their vehicle is street legal.
If the new electronic vehicle plate is not ready for that car immediately, the motorist can still drive it until the electronic plates and window sticker are available. When the new plates are ready, officials said a representative from the Department of Vehicle and Drivers’ Licensing will contact the driver and let them know to report back to the Crewe Road office to collect the new license plates.
This process, in cases where the new electronic tags are not immediately ready, can take between one and two weeks, Mr. Hydes said. The inspected vehicle can still be legally driven and any police officer looking at the car will see from the window sticker that it is still operable.
“When a customer arrives at our offices to relicense their vehicle, they are told whether the plates are ready for collection,” said DVDL Director David Dixon. “If not, they are given a date to return to the Crewe Road office for collection.”
However, some local drivers have told the Cayman Compass that they were not contacted by the DVDL, even though their vehicles passed inspection months ago.
The new electronic plates are actually embossed with the license numbers within the DVDL Crewe Road facility and Mr. Dixon said department officials have continued to contact customers to let them know their new plates are ready. The DVDL Crewe Road office is now open on Saturdays between 9 a.m. and noon for drivers who need to collect the new license plates.
“We have plates ready for collection as of June 2017 to December 2017,” he said. “We actually have two rooms full of the uncollected plates.”
The electronic vehicle licensing system has generated significant controversy since its implementation was announced in the Legislative Assembly last summer. The new system cost $1.5 million, according to the licensing department.
However, Mr. Hydes said Tuesday that the cost was well worth the benefit that will accrue to the driving public and to local authorities from an electronic system that will make online vehicle registration, as well as some law enforcement duties, a lot easier.
The government signed a five-year contract on Jan. 14, 2016 for the use of the electronic plates. The contract is with Sistemat, S.A. Tonnjes C.A.R.D. International, based in Panama, according to the company’s website. The Sistemat firm is linked to German firm Tönnjes.
The number plates and the windscreen coupons are fitted with Radio-Frequency Identification chips – computer chip/antenna devices that can store relatively small amounts of information.
“They may simply be scanned by authorities, with only insurance and other vehicle particulars available to system users,” Mr. Dixon said in a statement.
The users of the system are DVDL employees, who manage it, and the police, who will have “read-only” access to the vehicle registration system.