The North Darfur authorities have given owners of unlicensed vehicles in the state a week to register their cars.
The North Darfur High Commission for the Collection of Unlicensed Firearms and Vehicles announced last weekend that the last possibility to register unlicensed vehicles at the customs administration offices in the state capital of El Fasher or in Zamzam, Zurog, and El Malha would be between September 11 and 19.
The alternative will be confiscation by members of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), Sudan’s main government militia.
The owners of the vehicles have to bring documents that prove their ownership of the cars. In the event they do not show up during the specified week period, they will lose their right to register.
The Commission began its work in early July. Eyewitnesses told Radio Dabanga at the time that about 12,000 vehicles were being held by the RSF in the area of Zurog.
Independent federal MP Siham Hasan told Radio Dabanga that she considers a deadline of one week far from enough. “Most of the car owners are now tending their farms. Moreover, it is not very safe on the roads, as armed robberies are rife in the area.”
The MP expressed surprise about the lack of cooperation between the governments of the five states of Darfur. “This decision was taken by the North Darfur authorities only,” she said. She also wondered why militiamen of the RSF militiamen are ordered to execute the confiscations, instead of regular customs employees.
She called on the North Darfur authorities “to consider the safety and rights of car owners” and warned of serious consequences in the case of confiscation of the vehicles.
For years, the authorities in Darfur are trying to curb the rampant insecurity in the region. Unregistered vehicles (imported or militia-owned), the wearing of a turban covering the face (kadamool) and the carrying of weapons by civilians have all been banned.
In August last year, army forces and the Rapid Support Forces, Sudan’s main militia, began implementing a major disarmament campaign in Darfur. In end December however, the Governor of North Darfur acknowledged that the arms collection did not lead to the planned results that far. He pointed to the large spread of weapons in the state, and stressed that there was “still a long way to go”.
Many people in Darfur, at a distance of more than 800 kilometres from Khartoum, buy cars smuggled from Chad, Niger and a number of west African countries. These so-called Boko Haram cars are usually not registered by the new owners. Other unlicensed vehicles are cars used by (former) militiamen for private purposes.