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Only these five Kenyans have customised number plates

What is in a car licence plate? Everything, if it is a personalised plate that is seen as a statement of individuality.

With more than 10,000 vehicles pouring on Kenyan roads during high seasons, according to the National Transport and Safety Authority database, a few car owners are opting for custom plates. The many luxury cars on the roads have given rise to another must-have status symbol: a prestigious licence-plate number.

The mark of distinction comes with either having a name inscribed on the metal plate at a price of Sh1 million or getting one that matches with your lucky triple numbers, which costs Sh30,000.

The uptake of the Sh1 million custom plates is still low with only five Kenyans driving cars with their names or initials. In the exclusive club of five is billionaire investor Chris Kirubi who owns three cars with personalised plates.

Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko's customised licence plates. PHOTO | FILE
Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko’s customised licence plates. PHOTO | FILE

The other four cars are owned by Nairobi Senator Mike Sonko, flamboyant  lawyer Donald Kipkorir, international football stars MacDonald Mariga and his brother Victor Wanyama.

Kenyans who revere lucky numbers and want them on their cars  are more.  Getting the special numbers was a logistic headache with no criteria to issue them despite the growing demand.

The National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) in September introduced the Sh30,000 charge to clamp down on the triple licence plates frenzy and the fee has not subdued demand.

Jacqueline Githinji, the NTSA director in charge of registration, said car owners seeking triple numbers are willing to wait until a new series begins, ‘‘which depends on the rate at which new car registrations are happening.’’

Some car owners wait for up to two months, depending on the volumes of imports.

But some people shy away from the exposure that comes with driving a car with a personal label.

Mr Kipkorir said he is not scared of the exposure the personalised number plates give  him, adding that it is a good revenue stream for the government as ‘‘all developed countries have a similar policy.’’

“Privatised number plates don’t create any security concerns at all. It is a basic issue of personal branding. It is also a vanity trip which life is all about. Personal helicopters by the way have privatised plates,’’ Mr Kipkorir wrote in response to a text message inquiry on why he chose the mark of uniqueness on the road.

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