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Traffic cops resume illegal crackdown on ‘factory tints’

Author: Ayuen Panchol | Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2019

A police officer counts "fine" for the car he's leaning against after the traffic officer who impounded it demanded 10,000 SSP for its release in April 2019 at Buluk | Credit | Ayuen Panchol/Eye Radio

The traffic police are back on the road again – harassing motorists in Juba over tinted windows despite revocation of the ban by the cabinet recently.

The traffic cops, with the help of armed security personnel, have resumed crackdown on cars with tinted windows, some motorists told Eye Radio on Wednesday.

They say they are acting on an order by the director of traffic Police John Akot.

They charge 5,000 Pounds – which they say gives the owner the right to drive around for 6 months.

One of the motorists whose vehicle was impounded this morning says she was forced to pay 7,000 pounds.

“I was going to work when they pulled me over. They told me to present the permit for the tinted windows,” said Susan (real name withheld for security purposes).

“When I asked why, they said it was just an order that was made yesterday [Tuesday].

“They are telling me to pay 5,000 for the tinted windows document and another 2,000 for the sticker.”

Eye Radio’s attempt to reach the director of traffic – John Akot – were not immediately successful.

But on 14 June, the minister of information announced that motorists using vehicles with factory tints are exempted from the order that had earlier banned them.

The revocation came two weeks after the minister of Interior – Michael Chiengjiek – told the traffic police and other members of the organized forces that those driving vehicles with tinted windows were considered “criminals,” and if anyone refused to stop when ordered, the officers were “free to shoot.”

This directive was described as “irresponsible, dangerous and unlawful” by a parliamentarian and an activist.

“If you are using a tinted car that is tinted from the company, then you are exempted, proved that the glass is from the company,” Makuei said after the regular council of ministers meeting in Juba that day.

And on 5 July, a group of lawyers withdrew a court case against the ministry of interior over use of vehicles with tinted windows.

This came after the two reached a consensus over the issue.

“We have agreed that after our discussion with the ministry of interior about the tinted vehicles, there will be no case,” said Issa Muzamil, the head of the group of lawyers.

“We are not going to sue or bring a case against them and in return no police officer or any soldier will touch any vehicle which has factory tint.”

In 2018, the director of the traffic department, Gen. John Akot, reversed a similar order because it lacked basis. The South Sudan Traffic Act 2003 does not mention tinted windows.

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