ZANZIBAR Island & Archipelago
Although the new design of Zanzibar island plate only commenced in 2008, there are none of the previous ZNZ series left in circulation. Every running vehicle was obliged to re-plate within a year. Three dumped cars were seen from the former ZNZ series. Sad to say, PEMBA island has lost its dedicated (PBA) plates since the 2008 series was introduced, so that both islands now have indistinguishable registrations.
About three years ago, possibly with financial assistance from an external assistance scheme, the two main roads, north and south of the capital, were well re-made (not just re-surfaced) and plate-spotters with a will to penetrate the far corners of Zanzibar can now travel the 180km from end-to-end in a (tiring) day, in their hired Suzuki 4wd with bald tyres and afro air-conditioning, at the handsome fee of US$50 p.d. Petrol costs the same here as anywhere else (about US$2 per litre). A policeman earns US$320 a month, to give an idea of how relatively expensive it is in this distant place, where every single thing has to be imported and the only income from exportation is a little fish and some spices such as cloves and pepper.
The long arm of the law tends to hide under an avocado tree and bound out as the simple foreigner approaches, that arm now raised in the way of a highwayman. A brief debate ensues, often concerning the prospects for Chelsea or Manchester United and, the grateful peeler’s paw being now stuffed with 1,600 Tanzanian shillings, or, better, a US dollar, our driver is able to proceed to the next stopping-point, where only the change of football club disturbs the interview format.
From 1890 to 1963, Britain ran the islands of the Zanzibar archipelago as a Protectorate, with a British Resident who guided the ruling sultans in matters of governance. The last Resident’s Ford Zephyr car is stored in a Stone Town Museum called The House Of Wonders and my ambition to witness it in the flesh was frustrated by the building’s closure and imminent collapse due to maintenance ‘difficulties’. It is to be re-opened when the UNESCO (or anyone) has found a willing cultural donor to settle the bill for the new roof, as obviously, it isn’t thought to be the duty of Tanzania to correct the matter. In an adjacent building outhouse, lies a 1951 Austin Princess ceremonial landaulette limousine, unplated, the grand transport of the Resident of that earlier period.
A preceding Resident (Governor) of the 1950s left this Austin ceremonial limo for his successors. Brumby archive
R. The Ford Zephyr left by the last Resident, during the violent 1964 revolution which followed Zanzibar’s Independence in 1963. The independent island was subsumed into Tanzania only three months later, but remains semi-autonomous. (Brumby archive)
R = Resident. A Bluemels-manufactured plate for Zanzibar.
FORMER SERIES – circa 1983 – 2008.
Here is a dumped Land Rover in a country spot, still sporting the ZNZ private vehicle series, which ran from the 1980s to 2008.
In the case of the island government plates, there are still examples of the pre-2008 series to be seen, as here with SMZ 5534, the letters abbreviating the Swahili SERIKALI MAPINDUZI ZANZIBAR for ‘Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar’. The island has a measure of self-government separate from Tanganyika, its mainland partner in the union of Tanzania; mainland government plates also circulate on the island and these are of the Tanzanian Union format, usable in either place. However, Zanzibar vehicles may not be used on the mainland, unless they change to mainland plates!
More recent SMZ government plates are being manufactured using the new (2008) Chinese equipment, though continuing the 4-numeral serials, as with SMZ 7209. Possibly this series is, or has been, re-issued when a number became voided through scrappage of the previous vehicle.
SERIKALI MAPINDUZI ZANZIBAR. (Swahili for: Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar) Former SMZ-NNNN government issues have progressed to three numerals and a serial letter, presumably because the previous system reached 9999. There are hundreds of Vespa scooters on Zanzibar – far more than there are light motorcycles, the bigger wheels of which one would have thought were much more suitable for the poor roads……….. SMZ 161 C here.
…….and another new-format island government plate on a Land Rover – SMZ 303 A.
SHIRIKA ya UMMA (Agency of ?the State?) This long-used ‘Union’ official series which is used both in Zanzibar and in Tanganyika, is issued to Para-Statal (semi-government) bodies. Here is one of only three examples seen, on a new light bus in Stone Town, the ancient arab capital town of the island. Note that these SUs run up to five numerals, as did the old TZ civilian plates on the mainland (and the ZNZ ‘s on Zanzibar).
SERIKALI TANZANIA (Tanzania (union of) Tanganyika and Zanzibar archipelago Government) These, quite common, Union government vehicle plates use the ST prefix, which first ran to 9999 and then took a letter suffix between the ST code and the serial number, as with STK 5528. K appears to be the latest suffix reached, at November 2013. Note the slight variation in the design of the flags, between Tanganyika and Zanzibar. Brumby archive
PT 0547: A new discovery seems to be the yellow-on-black special series for Police Tanzania. Take care – they DO NOT like to have their kit photographed! Brumby archive
PT 2142: Properly-pressed motor-bike version for Tanzania police, (using an unusual font). Brumby archive
Fire Brigade, Army volunteers and ‘Navy’ series have been photo-captured by a variety of subterfuges and these will be added here shortly, along with any other items of interest.
MISSING TRADE SERIES
I cannot locate any new-vehicle dealers, from whom I might have grabbed a shot of a Trade Plate. LATER: I learn that the Trade Plate series has not been issued since 2007 and that there MAY be a re-introduction in 2014.
There is no car hire business in Zanzibar – thus no plate series. If one needs a rental car, private owners met in an alley will walk for a week if US$50 a day is suggested to them by way of recompense for handing over their wheels, but the condition of the vehicle can cause the tourist to do plenty of walking, too.
Our Suzuki actually kept going for a week, but the rental fee was greater than the value of the car!
The car I bought!
Some Zanzibar official series:
8061 JW 05 Tanzania union army JESHI WANACHI (Citizens’ Force) registered first in 2005. Brumby archive
KIKOSI cha KUZUIAMOTO (Group to Prevent fire) – The Fire Brigade. Used only in Zanzibar. Brumby archive.
KVX 120 – KIKOSI VALANTIA ZANZIBAR – (Zanzibar Volunteer Group) for deployment in emergencies under military control – Zanzibar use only. (Perhaps we might say Civil Defence) Brumby archive
KIKOSI cha KUZUIQ MAGENDO – (Group to Prevent Smuggling) there being no EAZ navy, and used on Zanzibar archipelago only. Sometimes seen with a yellow anchor on the plate. (Perhaps the better description might be Coastguard.) Brumby archive
Ambulances and Health Ministry transportation is marked by (usually painted) red plates with the white code DFP and up to 4 numerals, representing Donor-Funded Projects, using vehicles of all types imported free of duty.
DFP is for Donor-Funded Projects, by which vehicles are imported free of duty for humanitarian duties.
Donor-Funded Projects such as Malaria Prevention, Vaccination programmes etc. run by local MoH and foreign assistance. Brumby archive
BELOW: A handful of Consulates work in Stone Town, the principal diplomatic functions occurring in Dar-es-Salaam. Here is a CC example, showing the extra ‘Z’ which possibly differentiates it from the mainland consular series, which uses ‘T’ only.
Embassy code 64 is presently unidentified.
BELOW: From the mainland, but working in Zanzibar, with no alteration to the plates, are some UN diplomats with their characteristic blue plates, rather than green for normal diplomats. 203 is for UNDP, but agency 210 is unlisted.
T 312 CCI. First notification of a new EAT NGO series. CCI is an Non-Government Organisation in Tanzania. see http://www.cci.or.tz/ Seen in Zanzibar Oct 2013.
THE OFFICERS OF GOVERNMENT
BELOW: The world’s government officials enjoy the display of their authority via special plates (see Western Samoa) and Zanzibar is no exception. Here are some Island Government Ministers’ plates – more code explanations will follow when my Swahili sharpens up…….
WA=WIZARA wa AFYA (Minister of Health)
W AMMN = WAZIRI ya ARDHI, MAJI, MAKASI & NISHATI – Minister of Land,Water, Housing and Energy Brumby archive
WN(OR) KUU = WAZIRI wa NCHI OFISI ya RAIS KAZI na UTUMISHI wa UMA: Secretary of State in the President’s Office of Public Service Works. It is good to use abbreviations, when your job description is as lengthy as this! Brumby archive
NW – (NAIBU WAZIRI wa MAJI MALVADILO) – Deputy Minister of the Depts. of Water and Agriculture
Then there are District and Regional Commissioners, also with new 4wd transport, to help them do their kindly duty to the peasantry.
DC = District Commissioner for Southern (Urban) Zanzibar
RC = Regional Commissioner for Western (Urban) Zanzibar
The Speaker of the House, presumably, speeding through the Stonetown traffic en route to deliver a stirring oration++. Brumby archive
The normal system, from 2008:
EX is the latest serial to be issued (Nov. 2013) All vehicle types use the same series, but the plate colour changes according to the vehicle use – Private (all vehicle types), Taxi, Tourist Taxi, Cargo/public carrier.
Motorcycle front plate in pressed alloy, for bikes which have somewhere to mount a long plate. Otherwise, they use an adhesive sticker plate.
The adhesive plates are particularly useful for the many Vespa scooters which are found on Zanzibar, and mount on the front apron.
Adhesive plate Z 830 AB mounted on a Vespa apron. Brumby archive
Pressed metal rear plate layout for all 2- and 3-wheelers
Public Buses and normal taxis (which are rather decrepit) receive these white on red alloy plates from 2008. Newer, safer cabs suitable for foreign visitors use the same red background, but use yellow digits Brumby archive
Tourist Taxi using yellow on red pressed plates.
Lorry plates, for carrying goods for hire and reward, use a dark yellow plate with black digits, the serials from the normal registration system.
It is interesting to note that EAZ uses white plates for private vehicles and yellow for commercial, whereas Tanganyika, the mainland component of Tanzania 20 minutes away by ferry, uses the reverse – white for commercial trucks and buses, and yellow for private vehicles…….. Vive la difference!
- STAR PRIZE. As a post-war car buff, I give the Medal of Zanzibar to this surviving Austin A35, carrying its plates from the c.1983 series. – – though no longer in use. Who knows what previous series plates it may have previously borne????? It would have been the AA 6 type or the next, MYP 123 format (Both in British size/digits.) Brumby archive
One of the world’s rarest plate sights…………