Times are changing and vehicles too. In most major towns in the country, more vehicles cruising on the roads are gradually adopting tinted glasses. In the city of Yaounde, one private car out of fifteen has tinted glasses. The growing and trendy phenomenon has aroused the interest of the powers that be, for, as they say, it is becoming a road safety and security concern.
Faced with growing security concerns especially with the high number of robbery and rape cases recorded in cars, especially taxis, the Yaounde Central Police Station in collaboration with the Yaounde City Council raided the streets in September and impounded about a hundred taxis with tinted glasses. Proprietors had to pay FCFA 25,000 and change their window colours before recovering their cars.
If the campaign proved successful, private cars are yet to be touched. A majority of owners of such vehicles are virtually ignorant that it constitutes an offence. "I tinted my car glasses for prestige reasons. I am also protected from the prying eyes of thieves who cannot see what I have in my vehicle," says Robert, the owner of a luxury vehicle.
At the Ministry of Transport, the Sub-Director for Road Activities and Professions, Miché Atengan, told Cameroon Tribune that the July 23, 1991 ministerial decision regulating the homologation of vehicles, bars all cars not subject to homologation with tinted glasses from circulating as such. "It is forbidden to tint glasses of standard vehicles for capricious or fantasy reasons," he told Cameroon Tribune.
In effect, the Law of April 8, 1996 on protecting roads confirms in Article 6 (1) that all vehicles are subject to homologation before circulation. While Article 17 (a) considers the circulation of a non-homologated vehicle as an offence, Article 18 (1A) provides for the imposition of a fine of FCFA 250,000 for failure to subject a vehicle to homologation.
For Divisional Superintendent Mbankwere Jean Zimbi who is Central Police Station Superintendent No. 1, tinted car glasses have become an alarming security issue. "We have cleansed the taxi sector and look forward to clamping down on private vehicles," he revealed. On the streets, traffic policemen admit that it is sometimes difficult to identify drivers, passengers and even contents of a vehicle with tinted glasses. "We don't know if the driver is a wanted bandit or if someone is being held at gunpoint in the car," said one traffic policeman. Observers say the issue is promoted by the importation of new and used vehicles from Europe. By growing number, the vehicles come with already tinted glasses.