By Sami Zaptia.
London, 6 August 2016:
Tripoli’s Security Directorate has warned foreigners living in Tripoli not to drive in cars with the all-white number (licence) plates designated exclusively for privately-owned vehicles belonging to Libyan citizens.
Foreign residents living in Libya are supposed to drive vehicles with a white plate but with a number within a blue square. Each country in the world has a specific number.
Vehicle number plates with a yellow background are commercial vehicles such as trucks or taxis, whilst blue plates are public service vehicles such as the police, ambulance, fire brigade etc. Red plates are diplomatic (embassy) vehicles, again with a number denoting which country they belong to.
The Directorate has urged all foreigners in Tripoli to go to the vehicle licencing department and change their plates in order to comply with regulations. It warned that it would ”take strong measures” against those infringing the law.
It is believed that the warning by the Tripoli Security Directorate is born out of security concerns in an effort to avoid the use of local number plates to camouflage possible terror attacks.
It is not clear how effective Tripoli’s police will be in enforcing this warning as all Libya’s security apparatus has been very weak and ineffective since the February 2011 revolution. This fact is born out by the high crime and kidnap rate since 2011 – which the security apparatus has failed to combat.
On the other hand, foreigners living in Tripoli have told this paper that they avoid using the blue squared number plates designated for foreigners so as to avoid being targeted, in general, but more specifically to avoid being targeted by corrupt traffic police.
They complained that they keep being stopped on flimsy excuses or for no genuine ‘’traffic’’ reasons at all – simply in order to force them to pay a bribe. ‘’They keep complaining that the state has not paid them for months’’, one foreign Tripoli resident told this publication.