THE Zimbabwe National Road Administration (Zinara) has introduced automatic number plate recognition cameras at tollgates along the Plumtree-Mutare Highway as part of broader measures to reduce congestion at the tollgates.
The technology uses optical character recognition on images to read vehicle registration plates and the information gathered is used to identify and process the vehicle tolling class, licensing status and tolling exemption status.
For exempted vehicles and those on residential discounts, the ANPR technology will communicate with the exemption vehicles database and automatically trigger the boom to open without human intervention.
Zinara technical director Moses Chigonyati confirmed this development, saying the technology was already in use at Norton tollgate and the rollout to other tollgates was already underway.
He said the technology was going to contribute significantly towards easing of congestion at the tollgates as all exempted cars were no longer required to stop at the tollgates.
“We are introducing the basic short-range cameras at all the tollgates along the Plumtree-Mutare Highway which will recognise the number plate of an exempted car approaching the tollgate at a speed of 70km per hour,” Chigonyati said.
“The long-range cameras recognise cars that will be moving at a speed of 160km per hour so we settled for the short-range camera on the understanding that no motorist will approach a tollgate at a speed of 160km per hour. The biggest advantage of this system is that toll collectors will no longer go out of the booth to physically verify if the vehicle is exempted or not and, they do not need to scan an exemption coupon physically on the document scanner. This is going to shorten the transacting time at the tollgate. There was also the challenge of toll collectors scanning expired exemption coupons due to pressure, but this is going to be a thing of the past because the ANPR system is going to pick this automatically.”
Chigonyati said physical scanning of exemptions was posing a challenge as some motorists would stick their exemption discs on the windscreens and they had to remove them for physical scanning purposes.
He said the ANPR system was also going to ease the processing of the Zinara cards on the Plumtree-Mutare Highway because initially collectors were inputting the number plates manually.
Chigonyati said during this COVID-19 era, the ANPR system was going to reduce manual processing of exempted vehicles.
He added: “These cameras will also allow future developments like licencing and system processing and verification of road transit coupons, but principally for now this is
going to reduce processing time at the plazas and allow road
users to spend less time on the queues.”