Pietermaritzburg - KwaZulu-Natal - and probably Western Cape - vehicle owners will have to dig into their pockets to pay for changes to their vehicle registration numbers and car plates.After years of fierce debate proposals to replace town-based registrations such as ND and NP to fall into line with Gauteng and other provinces, a transport department spokesperson has confirmed that the provincial cabinet had approved the department’s plan for 'KZN' plates.The current town-based plates, the spokesperson said, were “colonial”; subject to abuse; difficult for police to trace - and running out of digits.Details of the changeover are yet to be announced but Wheels24's sister publication The Witness understands the new plates are likely to be aluminium - not plastic - and include, as with the Eastern Cape (elephant) and Limpopo (baobab) - "tradesmarks".At least one opposition party has is dismayed... DA Eastern Cape transport spokesperson Radley Keys said the focus should instead be on reducing traffic incidents. “There is no need for this change," he said. "They are being utterly bizarre because our current system works fine. With this process every vehicle owner will be affected, while those in licensing businesses will be smiling with fat bank balances.”WESTERN CAPE PLATESThe Western Cape is the only other province to use residence-based registrations - and a spokesperson for its transport department said the days of the famed CA registration were also, er, numbered.He added that initial indications showed the Western Cape would soon run out of number combinations: "We need to convert to a standard registration-plate system.”He said: "There is still no indication as to when this change will happen as the Department is still exploring the options available and will make submissions when this process is concluded."Chief executive of the South African Number Plate Association, Zurika Louw, said the change would improve security and car identification - especially after severe collisions. “The current plastic plates appear to be cause for concern. I understand KZN wants its plates to be aluminium, which cannot be copied - or burnet after a crash.”The KZN spokesperson added, “Several businesses are selling fake plates which prove difficult for the department to trace."The KZN department now wanted permission from national transport to develop a plan for the roll-out and, thereafter, to amend legislation. The spokesperson could not say what it would cost vehicle owners for the replacements. However, registration costs currently exceed R500, while basic number plates cost at least R150 per set.MIXED FEELINGSThe plan was greeted with mixed feelings by drivers. Joel Moodley complained there was “nothing wrong” with his plates. “My main worry is that I will have to pay for this. I believe the government should issue free registrations for once."Sebastian Atkinson said the change could help unite the people of South Africa’s most populous province. “It might be a good move to unite us as people," he said. "Why were we separated in the first place? It’s nice to identify your vehicle from your province when you’re outside it but the cost will be a serious factor."Automobile Association spokesperson Graeme Scala said there were clear safety benefits: “It might help in data collection to have plates that reflect a province."