El Fasher — On Monday, dozens of owners of unlicensed (popularly named Boko Haram) vehicles held a sit-in in front of the customs office in El Fasher, capital of North Darfur, demanding the release of their seized vehicles.
They told Radio Dabanga that they paid all financial obligations required of them to the customs administration. Their vehicles are held under the guard of the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF).
They said the director of the customs department told them that the solution of the problem is in the hands of RSF, not the customs.
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.