THE ban on use of tinted glasses and hooded vehicle number plates in Anambra, announced last Sunday, by Governor Willie Obiano has continued to strike right chords across the state. Although there may be a temptation to cynically dismiss it in opposition circles as a manifestation of a state in panic mode given recent isolated security concerns, solid imprints of leadership beyond political correctness midwifing the ban are crystal clear.
Hence, the mood in town is not only supportive but indicative of the people’s readiness to comply with the order. In fact, banning use of non-factory-fitted tinted glasses and unauthorised use of covered number plates in vehicles should be a nationwide development because of their wide abuse.
ANYONE still nursing any sentiment at variance with this general mood is either suffering from hard hearing or deliberately sparring for a needless fight.
THIS takes the issue to a question on why anyone may not welcome the ban despite its wide acceptance among law abiding ndi Anambra or put differently, what nectar grows on tinted glasses and hooded number plates for some people?
INQUIRY conducted among vehicle owners and operators, both commercial and private, shows that some people think they look or feel just cool using tinted glasses and hooded number plates. For this category, tampering with those automobile gadgets is translated as ‘customising’ them to whet their personal idiosyncrasies without giving any hoot to the social health or security implication of such act to the public.
THERE is another group whose predilection for tinted glasses and hooded number plates is a by-product of ego or showmanship. For them, quite apart from customisation, they see the state-licence plate as ‘boring’ or below the prestige they attach to their cars. They stretch this logic with a rationalisation that if some government officials are permitted to use tinted glasses and hooded number plates, nothing should debar anyone who can afford them from also using them.
But the irony here is that beyond official users of such items and luxury automobiles whose owners so licenced, even if just exotic cars that catch the eyes on the streets for whatever implausible reasons, what special class seal will anyone ascribe to cabs, commercial tricycles and motorcycles whose owners hood their number plates or tint the windows? Some of them even blare sirens.
ANOTHER group of vehicle owners use tinted glasses and hooded number plates to shield red light cameras or toll road cameras or to make it difficult for people to see their license plates. But like their peers in the earlier cited groups, their reason is not without its own fault lines. For while some covers may look relatively clear just looking at them, they can cause problems for a camera, especially if a camera flash is directed towards them. So, it is evident that people who fit such appliances in their vehicles are up to something sinister.
THIS brings back the issue to the reason behind outlawing unauthorised use of tinted glasses and covered number plates. Security and safety concerns necessitate government’s action because indiscriminate use of tinted glasses and covered number plates in vehicles breeds fear, shields criminals and make the work of law enforcers as well as security agents difficult..
INCIDENTS of armed robbers and kidnappers using vehicles with tinted glasses and covered number plates to escape after unleashing terror on the public are too many to be recounted. Beside them, all manner of aides and domestic servants of wealthy individuals, politicians and government functionaries now tend to hide their vehicle number plates while driving on our roads. The danger here is that it becomes easy for misguided elements to abuse them, apart from posing security threats especially at check points where kidnappers, armed bandits and other criminals can disguise to beat security at any point.
WHILE government does not take pride in neutralising people’s peculiar wont or begrudging their taste, it will tantamount to dereliction of duty or outright disservice for it to shirk its constitutional responsibility of protecting law abiding members of the public from the criminal ones. If there were any time when this duty should be treated with levity, it is certainly not now – not with recent intrusion by armed hoodlums toying with terrorist tendencies.
APART from the foregoing, indiscriminate or unauthorised use of tinted glasses and covered number plates are offences under relevant road traffic codes in Nigeria. That is why many states in Nigeria have similar policies.
THIS is why we call on all not only to support the ban but also to help government in enforcing the order to the letter. In this regard, presidents of town unions, traditional rulers, vigilante operatives, religious and market leaders should be co-opted into its enforcement organogram so that it will be convenient for them to regularly volunteer information to security agencies.
GOVERNMENT should ensure that violators of the ban are sanctioned. Stiff penalties such as imprisonment with option can be imposed on them. There is no alternative to round-the-clock security of life and property as Anambra State has been enjoying since March 17, 2014.