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How can residents of Daraa legalize “their smuggled vehicles”?

A local market in Daraa province - 21 January 2020 (SANA)

A local market in Daraa province - 21 January 2020 (SANA)

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The use of the term “burnt vehicles” has spread across the province of Daraa in southern Syria, which refers to “vehicles stolen or smuggled” from the neighboring countries of Lebanon and Iraq. These vehicles do not have certificates of legal ownership, nor registration plate. Besides, their registration fees are not paid to the Directorate of Transport.

Since the Syrian regime took full control of Daraa province in 2018, the owners of “smuggled vehicles” tried to legalize the registration of their vehicles to avoid the confiscation of the Syrian regime checkpoints and for the application for a “smart card” for fuel consumption.

In a search for original owners of smuggled vehicles

The lack of movement and communication with the Syrian-regime controlled areas, as well as the absence of traffic police and transport directorates in the opposition government, have enhanced the use of smuggled vehicles in the area.

Moreover, the “smuggled vehicles” are not registered in the directorates of transportation, which means there are no vehicle registration documents. Accordingly, there are no accumulated duties and taxes to be paid to the Syrian regime, unlike conventional vehicles.

Imad, a taxi driver in the province of Daraa, owned a car without issuing official documents. He used to drive in opposition-held areas; however, he had to register his vehicle after the Syrian regime took control of the city.

Imad, who asked his real name no to be published for security reasons, managed to find the original owner of his car via the “license number of his vehicle’s engine.” Then, he contacted the owner and paid him the “duty- clearance certificate for his vehicle” and got the car’s legal ownership.

Imad pointed out that many owners of “smuggled vehicles” got rid of their vehicles by returning them to their original owners, paying duty- clearance certificates, or by selling them as spare parts.

Legalizing the registration of vehicles for the benefit of the State Treasury

The government of the Syrian regime benefited from legalizing the listing of “smuggled vehicles,” as revenues of the transport directorate in Daraa reached one billion and 98 million Syrian pounds (SYP) (1,071,219 USD).

The director of transport in Daraa, Moheeb al-Rifai, told the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA), on 15 January, that the revenues of the Directorate increased in 2019 compared to 2018, as a result of citizens’ significant demands for the regularization of smuggled vehicles.

Al-Rifai pointed out that the number of vehicle transactions executed in the past year amounted to 38, 113, including 19,553 license renewals, and 6, 343 ownership transfers.

The Syrian government limited the provision of subsidized fuel to vehicles whose owners possess a “smart card,” which can only be obtained after fulfilling the registration requirement of their vehicles and paying their fees and duties. Therefore, several citizens attempt to regularize the registration of their vehicles to get the “smart card.”

Mamoun, a resident of the Daraa countryside, told Enab Baladi that regularizing the conditions of all kinds of vehicles has become necessary, not only to pass through the checkpoints of the Syrian regime and traffic patrols but to obtain the subsidized fuel as well.

Mamoun, who spoke to Enab Baladi on condition of anonymity, pointed out that he had finished the procedures of the registration of his motorcycle and got all the legal documentation to obtain fuel through the “smart card.”

On the other hand, “smuggled vehicles” are considered a loss for both their original owners and illegal ones. The vehicle’s real owner is forced to sell at a lower price to the person who is already using it. Moreover, the current user of a vehicle may have to sell it again at a meager amount, because most of the “smuggled vehicles” arrived in Daraa illegally.

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