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Conflict Incident Report
Sidon security cracks down on electric motorbikes
Security forces in the southern city of Sidon cracked down on electric motorbikes Wednesday, confiscating an unspecified “large quantity” of vehicles from unsuspecting and law abiding motorists. Several additional traffic checkpoints were set up throughout the city, at which motorbikes were impounded for reasons that were not made known to the public.
Motorbikes powered by fuel have been banned in the southern city since 1999, after a string of severe crimes – including the murder of two police officers – were carried out utilizing the vehicles. The offenses culminated in a crisis point when attackers breached a court house and killed four judges. Motorbikes were also often used in drive-by shootings or as escape vehicles, prompting the ban.
Electric motorbikes were exempt from the ban, given that their lower speeds would limit the user’s ability to use them as getaway vehicles after committing a crime.
Owners who had their vehicles confiscated emphasized that their bikes could only carry them at speeds of 30 kilometers per hour, making any bike-facilitated crime unlikely.
The owners threatened to take escalatory measures if their electric bikes were not returned. They said no justification had been given for the seizures and as such the authorities’ action was unjust.
According to several sources, Sidon MPs as well as prominent local figures reached out to security forces to discuss the confiscations.
The Internal Security Forces announced Monday that electric motorbikes would soon need to be registered. The ISF added that owners would have 35 days to register their vehicles before becoming subject to fines.
The grace period, as stipulated, would end July 15, 2017.
Owners of electric motorbikes with engine powers of a kilowatt or less had previously been exempted from registering their vehicles.
The 1999 ban was implemented by south Lebanon’s then-governor, Faisal Sayegh, who originally ordered a one-month ban in Sidon and 12 surrounding villages, but the prohibition was never lifted.