+ Danfo buses to be eradicated
Dr. Ekundayo Mobereola is the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation. The commissioner in an interview programme – The Discourse on Classic FM 97.3, recently said vehicles forfeited to the government will be auctioned. He also said there are plans by the Lagos State government to ultimately eradicate the yellow buses, aka. Danfo from Lagos roads.
What are the highlights of traffic law that we have in Lagos State now?
The law for all road users, it’s for those driving their cars, for those who are walking on the road and people who are going about their businesses. The law is to allow for a safe passage and make life comfortable and enjoyable for every citizen of Lagos.
That is what the law is all about. It is not a punitive law by any means in comparison to any Nigerian or international law.
In the law, it is said that if you drive without driver’s licence, your vehicle will be impounded. When the vehicles are impounded will the owners be able to get them back?
Of course, yes. When you regularize your licence or you bring your license.
Actually, the law says you must always have your license on you. That means you driving without your driving license on you, you have actually violated the law.
Is it acceptance to use photocopy of one’s driving licence?
Not quite. We want to see the original because licence can be defaced or anything can happen to it.
People are afraid to walk around with their original driver’s licence because it could be lost or stolen. Are you saying that is not accepted?
That is not accepted.
Is it not at the discretion of the traffic officer?
It is not. The law says you must carry the original.
The law also says if a second offender drives a vehicle without a driver’s licence, he will go to three years imprisonment. How do you know a second offender?
We have a data base. We have biometrics. We take records. Once you commit the first offence, you are taken to the court and your data is registered and stored. When you commit the offence again, you will go in for three years.
For towing an impounded car you pay N10,000. Is it to the government or the towing vehicle owner?
You pay to the towing vehicle. You also now pay the penalty for the offence that had been committed. It could be N20,000 or N50,000 like for trailers that are not allowed to ply the road between 6 am and 9 pm in Lagos.
Is there a law that banned trailers from plying the roads between 6 am and 9 pm?
Yes, it is there in Section 1 and section 2 of the traffic law.
How come we now have trailers on the road during the day?
We are getting there. It is just issue of enforcement.
Is it every vehicle or every commercial vehicle that should have road worthiness certificate?
Every vehicle that is over three years old must have road worthiness certificate. That is to say that your vehicle is safe. The breaks are good, the wipers and the mirrors are there. People should bear in mind that these laws are actually meant for the drivers themselves, the families and other road users.
Does these laws apply to danfo drivers?
It applies to everybody.
I will like to challenge you to send me the photograph of any danfo driver that complied with this law (road worthiness)?
I will do that.
I said this because 90 percent of danfo buses don’t have one thing or the other.
I totally agree with you. We have a scheme whereby we are going to ultimately eradicate danfo from Lagos completely.
When you drive with a forged driver’s licence or vehicle particulars, it is just N20,000 fine. Shouldn’t people be sent jail for forging government document?
It is just to serve as a deterrent. Most people will say I sent somebody to get the document, I didn’t know it is forged. But when you pay N20,000 fine once, you will know how to get a genuine one by doing it yourself. The process is actually simple. The problem we have in this part of the world, especially Lagos is that we are not patient.
We are impatient. The truth is you will sit down all day and people will be going through the back door to get whatever they want.
But I ask questions. I think I met about 100 applicants (at Ojodu VIO office when he visited). The only complaint I was getting was the process is a bit slow. The computer system they were using had to store the data in Abuja, get the approval and come back to Lagos. It is a slow process.
When vehicles are forfeited to the state, what happens to it? Are you going to convert them to the state use or are you going to shred them and take them to recycling plant?
When you commit an offence for the second time, it is at the discretion of the magistrate to decide whether you should forfeit your vehicle or not. It is not only here in Nigeria that you forfeit your vehicle. I have seen it done in India.
But what happens when you forfeit your vehicle to the government?
It means that the government is now the owner of the forfeited vehicles. What we do is to auction them. We advertise that these vehicles have been forfeited to the state government and therefore…
(Cuts in) You know that the (Nigeria) Customs ran into credibility problem because of a thing like this.
There is nothing wrong in sending them to recycling plant.
I must congratulate you on the air conditioned BRT buses.
Is it the state government that is running the BRT buses or a private enterprise?
They are run by private enterprise but they are regularised by the government.
Who runs them on daily basis?
It is privately owned and it is privately run.
So, the responsibility of keeping them in tip-top shape lies with the owners?
Yes, but they have to comply with the maintenance agreement which they signed with the state. We have a service level agreement before we gave them license to operate these buses. Included in that is maintenance agreement which included daily check, weekly check, monthly check and all of that.
Some visually impaired people are complaining that the buses are not friendly to them. What are you doing about that?
What we did in the past is that we created ramps for disabled people that are on wheel chairs to stroll in onto the buses at each bus stop.
We also created seats – the first three seats on either side when you enter the bus is for the physically challenged.
His Excellency, Governor Aknwunmi Ambode has actually given an executive directive that they can enter the buses free provided that they have a registered card.
Where do they register?
There is Lagos State Physically Challenged Authority. They should go there and register.
Which vehicles are VIO (Vehicle Inspection Officer) are supposed to check? Because they allow these yellow vehicles (danfos) to move freely while they constantly harass private vehicles alone. Is this right?
I disagree with you in the sense that it is not a revenue drive at all. Like I said, the traffic law of Lagos is actually to create sanity, standard and safety for everybody on the road. The directive I have personally given to the VIO is that they should concentrate more on the commercial vehicles. The reason being that, when a passenger enters a commercial vehicle, he is at the behest of the bus driver and the owner, who put the vehicle on the road. Whereas the private car owner who put his family car on the road is only endangering his own life.
So, we are concentrating on the commercial vehicles so that un-road worthy vehicles are not put on the road to endanger the lives of the passengers and other road users.
The other option to this is the fact that we have started a programme and very soon we will get danfos and un-road worthy vehicles out of Lagos State completely.
– TOLANI ABATTI