New license plates lack security features
THE Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the supplier of the supposedly “smart” license plates allegedly duped millions of vehicle owners into believing that the new plates contained security and safety features.
Eduard Fereira told the Senate that test results revealed that the new license plates lacked the security features that were promised by the joint venture of Power Plates Development Concepts Inc. and Dutch firm J. Knierem BV-Goes (JKG) when it joined bidding for the P3.8-billion license plate standardization program of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) in 2013.
These missing features are the reflective sheeting material, laser-engraved logo of the LTO and the supplier on the aluminum substrates, laser-etched barcode on the plates and plate locks.
The bar code enables authorities to check if the plates match vehicles they are assigned to while the plate locks or screws would render the license plate unusable if they were forcibly removed.
Fereira, a private bidder, submitted a technical evaluation and test report to the Senate public services sub-committee on transportation headed by Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito.
In his report, he said the test conducted by a German-based company, MPA Hannover, cited four cost-relevant deviations on the new LTO plates that would show that Power Plates-JKG supplied cheaper materials than specified in bid documents it had presented.
Instead of using reflective graphic sheeting, the joint venture used simple white non-graphic sheeting. The reflective graphic sheeting is used in order to make digits on the license plates visible. Also, the supplier’s logo at the back of the plate was not engraved, but was merely stamped.
Power Plates-JKG said all the license plates shall be laser-etched with a barcode at a minimum depth of 0.025 mm with a height and width of 15 mm x 30 mm, but MPA Hannover found that the dimensions are 11 x 141 mm and therefore not according to tender conditions.
The supplier also did not follow the specified size of the screws as well as the feature that would make the plates difficult to remove.
While some of the findings in the test can be considered minor, these changes were done to reduce the cost of each plate so that the supplier would earn more, Fereira said.
Despite the supplier’s failure to deliver the security features that it promised, the LTO accepted the license plates and charged motorists P450 apiece.
Fereira noted that it was not clear if Power Plates-JKG complied with delivery schedules provided in the contract. LTO officials earlier admitted that it has run out of license plates, prompting the agency to lift its no-plate, no-travel policy.
Based on the license plates standardization program, the winning supplier should have delivered at least 4,085,335 license plates from July to December 2013 and another batch of 4,925,992 plates in 2015.
If Power Plates-JKG was able to comply with the delivery schedules, Fereira said, there would be no reason for the LTO to have a shortage of plates.
When asked during the Senate panel hearing last week about the delivery of the license plates, LTO chief Alfonso Tan could not say how many license plates have been received by the LTO. Ha said he was unaware of the issues raised by Fereira.
The private bidder questioned the validity of the contract awarded to Power Plates-JKG, saying the project was bidded out by the government even if there was no budget to cover it.
Ejercito;s committee will continue its inquiry into the license plate issue today.