By Alagie Manneh
The Citizens’ Alliance party has criticised as “ridiculous and counter-productive” a directive issued by the IGP’s office ordering tinted glass vehicle owners who wish to continue using tinted glasses to apply for clearance.
In a press release almost a fortnight ago, the office of the Inspector General of Police said it reviewed the issuance of tinted glass clearance for vehicles following what it calls “a thorough and strict consideration of national interest”.
“To cite but few instances, the IGPs office has registered cases in which tinted vehicles were used to traffic drugs and other contrabands across the country. In other instances, individuals used it as cover to evade security inspections and non-compliance with relevant vehicle tax settlements,” the press release added among other reasons for the permit.
Reacting to the directive at a press briefing last Thursday, the CA presidential candidate Dr Ismaila Ceesay, said: “The height of this whole folly is when they said senior government officials, diplomats and others – who are those others we don’t know – will be allowed gratis, no pay. The darkest tint, 100% free for diplomats and government officials. Ridiculous. Commercial vehicles banned from tints. My question is, if really national security is the issue here, why say pay 10,000 dalasis? Criminals can afford D10,000. If I am a criminal and I do my dealings in my car, and I have a tinted glass and government says D10,000, I can easily afford that. For me, national security is not the reason then if it has a cost of 10,000 dalasis. It doesn’t make sense.”
Dr Ceesay reminded the IGP that most modern vehicles have a slight tint to their windows, especially vehicles made in 2015 and later.
“So, why should I buy my car and be punished for that? Why should citizens be punished for that? That is a lot of money for an average Gambian. There are reasons these cars have tints. One reason is that it reduces the amount of infrared, visible light, and ultra violet radiation that passes through windows of a vehicle. It is for the health and comfort of the driver and passengers. It protects them from the glare of the sun and makes car’s temperatures cooler, especially in hot temperatures like The Gambia,” Dr Ceesay said.
He said there is no argument that tinted glasses must be regulated, but emphasized it must be done “in a way that makes sense”.
“In essence, they are telling [criminals] that you can continue smuggling but just pay D10,000 dalasis,” he stated.
The way out?
He said authorities must look to strike a balance between driver experience and comfort and security.
“Best practices are available everywhere. In some countries, they allow 70 percent tint, some countries said no, 50, others said 30. Each country has its own guidelines that they give to motorists. For example, in India, total tint is banned but if it comes from a manufacturer it can be 30 percent tinted. In Tunisia, tints are allowed but it should not be heavily tinted to not see inside of the car,” he explicated.
He urged The Gambia, too, to come up with its own guidelines, based on technicalities, rather than verbal directives with no legal basis in law.
“In fact, we want to know the legal basis of this directive, we need to know these things and it needs to be clear. These random directives are not what move a country. The directive is counter-productive because if security is the sole reason why you want to regulate tinted glasses, then ban it, but don’t say pay 10,000 and use it,” Dr Ceesay said.