Laudable as the new Lagos State’s ‘no test, no roadworthiness certificate’ policy for motorists set to take off from January 1, 2022 seems, it has received mixed reactions, with a good number of road users in the state complaining about the poor state of the roads, which they claim is responsible for the dilapidating state of their vehicles. Gboyega Alaka reports.
COME January 1, 2022, the Lagos State Government has vowed to commence its ‘no test, no roadworthiness certificate’ policy. While many motorists have applauded the decision as great and in line with what obtains in advanced countries, many have equally carpeted the decision, citing several impediments, chief amongst which are the litany of bad roads that litter the state, the overwhelming number of vehicles versus the facilities on ground, which they say would lead to waste of man-hours, and many more.
Visit by this reporter to one of the state’s touted Vehicle Inspection Centres at Cele Express, Itire, to have his vehicle checked, presented him with rare opportunities to feel the pulse of some motorists, albeit unknown to some of them.
In truth, the service was fast and almost to precision, as virtually every fault, including a failed screen washer and expiration date or tires were detected. He also had to visit a third time before his vehicle was eventually issued a ‘passed’ certificate; having been told on his first return that a few things still needed to be fixed.
An elderly man, who gave his name as Fatai, at the Cele Vehicle Inspection Centre, who seemed perplexed at the way he had been forced to visit repeatedly for the checks at the centre, said, “This is my second time here; last week, they said they were not satisfied with the work done on my car. I think compelling us to put our vehicles through test is laudable and good for the people themselves; however, the problem I have is with the roads. If you are forcing motorists to pay for roadworthiness and go for compulsory tests, which they must pass, then you must ensure that the roads are vehicle worthy, otherwise there is an imbalance, and it simply means that the government is bullying the people. I used to drive a woman who was an American returnee; she told me of how, one day, her car bumped into a bad hole on the road in America and she developed a serious back pain. The next day, she said she called her lawyer and she sued the government authority in charge of the road. Promptly, they paid for her medical bills, and even fixed the road within twenty four hours.
“It is in such a system that the method they are bringing makes sense,” he said.
He condemned outright, the touting by one of the officials on a screen in the waiting room that Lagos has moved from being a mega-city to a smart-city.
“Have we even met the minimum standards expected of megacities around the world? Do we have power, do we have water, enough housing or even roads. Is our system computerised? Are pot-hole-ridden death trap roads the hallmark of mega-cities around the world? Are they claiming smart-city, because they now have a couple of computerised vehicle inspection centres? Have they started catching traffic light beaters without chasing or placing that spiky iron in between their tyres? These are the things they should first put in place. Do they even have enough vehicle inspection centres? If they don’t have enough, then they are only going to create a situation where thousands of vehicles will be on waiting list and the owners unable to go about their businesses,” Fatai argued.
John Nnorom, not real name, speaking of his experience, said the Lagos State government is just being high-handed and have given VIO officials too much power to oppress.
“Ordinarily, the people should have a right of say, but what we have is a situation where the officers just summarily issue motorists fines for the flimsiest of offences. The other day, I heard their boss, Engineer Akin-George Fashola on TV saying the minimum fine for road offenders is N20,000. Why is that so in a country where the minimum wage is N30,000 and a graduate worker with the same state government employ earns just about N60,000 or N70,000? I think a situation where a government just wants to make money off the people is not fair. If you must insist on a roadworthy vehicle, then the people have the right to demand for perfect, vehicle worthy roads as well. That way, our cars will last longer and we won’t have to be spending fortunes fixing cars every year.”
In what could be termed an open discussion, many of the respondents in the waiting room of this VIS centre unanimously agreed that they would have no problem with the new system, if the roads were good.
Nnorom, a businessman spoke of how on his last visit to Abuja, he made acquaintance with a taxi driver who told him how he bought a tokunbo (fairly-used) car, used it for eight years and still sold it at about N1million. Nnorom, who said he was initially surprised, said he later reasoned that such was possible because roads in the Federal capital territory are in near perfect condition.
“In Lagos, you would probably have to give such a car away. I sold my former fairly-used Toyota Corolla, which I bought at N1.8million, at a give-away price of N500,000 after using it for just five years. This was because all the joints and suspensions were in really bad shape.
“Usually the major problems we have in Lagos are the joints that get destroyed by bad roads. If it is engine, any responsible car owner knows he has to service his car engine. But are you going to service the roads? As far as I am concerned, by leaving our roads in such bad shapes, they are just creating markets for Chinese and Korean spare parts manufactures. If the roads were good, we could save a good chunk of the foreign exchange being used to import these parts,” Nnorom concluded.
However, Shamsi, who says he sometimes drives a commercial bus, said attention should also be focused on local government roads, which he said are the most neglected.
“Oga, have you tried to drive on local government roads in Mushin? Have you driven on Ladipo Street from Mushin? When you see passengers complaining that we cannot maintain our vehicles, the truth is they don’t understand what we’re going through. So, if we are talking of bad roads, the state government should either liaise with the local governments, or extend the repairs to the bad local government roads across the state. After all, what we hear is that the state government usually commandeers the local governments’ allocations.”