‘Black is black: I want my ba­by back...’

George Herald - Southern Cape Property Guide & Auto Dealer - - Auto Dealer -

The new y­e­ar got off to a roc­ky start for o­w­ners of black cars in Turk­me­ni­stan’s ca­pi­tal. Re­ports of black au­to­mo­bi­les being im­poun­ded wit­hout war­ning or ex­pla­na­ti­on ha­ve been co­ming out of the ci­ty Ashga­bat sin­ce New Y­e­ar’s Day.

Po­li­ce star­ted re­tur­ning the vehi­cles to their o­w­ners a few days ago, but on­ly if t­hey agree to sign a do­cu­ment that o­bli­ga­tes them to re­paint the cars whi­te or a­not­her lig­ht co­lour.

From the be­gin­ning of 2018, black cars ha­ve been ma­de il­le­gal in the ci­ty of Ashga­bat, Turk­me­ni­stan. Ac­cor­ding to se­ver­al in­de­pen­dent sour­ces, po­li­ce star­ted to­wing black cars to go­vern­ment par­king lots on 1 Ja­nu­a­ry, wit­hout e­ven no­ti­fying the o­w­ners.

Most of them le­ar­ned from par­king lot guards or neig­hbours that their vehi­cles had been sei­zed by the po­li­ce. The go­vern­ment has yet to of­fer an ex­pla­na­ti­on for the mass im­poun­ding of black cars.

Sick of wai­ting for an of­fi­ci­al an­noun­ce­ment on the mat­ter, so­me car o­w­ners con­tacted the po­li­ce and we­re told that t­hey we­re on­ly al­lo­wed to re­trie­ve their vehi­cles if t­hey sig­ned a do­cu­ment that o­bli­ges them to re­paint the cars whi­te or a lig­ht co­lour.

T­his does not co­me as a com­ple­te sur­pri­se. The Cen­tral-A­si­an coun­try ban­ned the im­port of black cars in 2015 and cu­s­toms of­fi­ci­als at the ti­me couldn’t of­fer any ex­pla­na­ti­on for the mo­ve ot­her than “whi­te brings good luck”.

In No­vem­ber 2017, go­vern­ment of­fi­ci­als we­re or­de­red to on­ly dri­ve whi­te cars, so t­his re­cent ban on black cars in Ashga­bat re­al­ly doe­sn’t seem sur­pri­sing.

But why is black fro­w­ned upon and whi­te so re­ver­ed in Turk­me­ni­stan?

Ra­dio F­ree Eu­ro­pe Ra­dio Li­ber­ty no­ted in a 2015 bro­ad­cast, “Whi­te has long been a fe­a­tu­re of the ca­re­ful­ly con­structed per­so­na­li­ty cult of pre­si­dent Gur­ban­gu­ly Ber­dy­muk­ham­me­dov.

"The for­mer den­tist has dra­ped his ca­pi­tal Ashga­bat in whi­te mar­ble, ri­des whi­te stal­li­ons and ma­kes ap­pea­ran­ces dres­sed in whi­te on a whi­te car­pet with whi­te flo­wer ar­ran­ge­ments.” So black car o­w­ners ha­ve to get in li­ne too. The im­pact of the new ru­le has hit ma­ny black car o­w­ners in Ashga­bat hard. Ha­ving a car re­pain­ted in the coun­try’s fa­vou­ri­te co­lour was al­re­a­dy ex­pen­si­ve, but af­ter news of the u­nan­noun­ced ban on black spre­ad a­round the ca­pi­tal, pri­ces shot up e­ven mo­re.

“W­hen I ca­me to the car ser­vi­ce, I was told that re­pain­ting my car would cost 7 000 Ma­nat (R51 318), but in a week the pri­ce would ri­se to 11 000 Ma­nat (R51 318),” one Ashga­bat re­si­dent who had his car im­poun­ded told Ra­dio A­zat­lyk. “My sa­la­ry is 1 000 Ma­nat (R7 331), so e­ven if I sa­ve up all of it, I will be for­ced to spend all my an­nu­al in­co­me on t­his paint job.”

Whi­le Turk­me­ni­stan’s go­vern­ment will pro­ba­bly ne­ver of­fi­ci­al­ly ackno­w­led­ge that the ban on black cars was lin­ked to pre­si­dent Ber­dy­muk­ham­me­dov’s per­so­nal pre­fe­ren­ce, a­no­ny­mous sour­ces in the go­vern­ment ha­ve al­re­a­dy told Ra­dio F­ree Eu­ro­pe that the de­ci­si­on to chan­ge cars’ co­lours was lin­ked to the pre­si­dent's lo­ve of the co­lour whi­te.

We can't help but won­der w­hat Hen­ry Ford's re­acti­on would ha­ve been!


The pre­si­den­ti­al w­heels - an ul­tra-ex­pen­si­ve Bu­gat­ti Vey­ron in li­me g­reen.

Whi­te is the pre­si­dent’s pre­fer­red co­lour.

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