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Oct 1 deadline: 63.7 % of vehicle owners yet to get new number plate

By OLASUNKANMI AKONI

•FRSC, VIS, talk tough on enforcement…
Owners of vehicles with old number plates are in for a tough time with law enforcement agents, if the threat by Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC, Lagos State Vehicle Inspection Service, VIS, and the Police is anything to go by as enforcement on new vehicle number plate commences on Tuesday, October 1, 2013.

FRSC and VIS, had said that the old number plates and the old driver’s license would expire by September 31, 2013. Like drivers’ license issuance, several complaints had followed non-availability of vehicle number plates.

In particular, shortly after the biometric driver’s licence and number plates were introduced in 2011, there were series of public complaints that the particulars were not getting to motorists as they should.

The people’s complaints were provoked by the deadline fixed for the acquisition of the new biometric driver’s licence and number plates by the issuing authorities. Although the deadline was later extended, as recommended by the National Assembly, many motorists insist that they could still not acquire the documents, citing inadequate provision of the documents as the reason.

number plate
The new number plate. Inset: old number plates

The motorists’ complaints notwithstanding, the issuing authorities including the FRSC and VIS insist on the September 30, 2013 deadline.

The Chief Vehicle Inspection Officer, VIO, in Lagos, Engr. Adegboyega Toriola, last weekend, said that his men had been directed to commence enforcement by October 1.

In Nigeria, vehicles are registered with number plates, therefore, when vehicles are sold to another person, the numbers are sold with the vehicles. By this structure, the new owner of the vehicle uses the same plate number on the vehicle. This implies that the vehicle retains the same number as long as it is on the road, as the number is never to be issued to any other vehicle.

It is worthy of note that Nigeria has changed number plates about six times, most of which were necessitated by adjustments in the federating structure through the creation of new states. Also, in recent times, Nigeria has changed vehicle number plates thrice without any adjustment to the state structure and without any meaningful impact on the welfare of Nigerians or security situation in Nigeria.

Security situation
Sometimes ago, the Police Force, under Tafa Balogun as Inspector General, introduced the Centralized Motor Registration, CMR, with Police report. People were forced to pay for this for every car so that all vehicles will be registered in one central computerized system with their owners’ data, engine and chassis numbers. The idea was to checkmate theft of vehicles, yet, vehicles with CMR are stolen daily.

Senate approval: The Senate, during the controversy resolved that the Biometric Central Motor Registry BCMR, system was a duplication of the ongoing vehicle owners’ biometric data scheme introduced by FRSC. However, the controversy surrounding the new number plates and vehicle registration had been put to rest.

The cost of standard motor vehicle plate numbers was reduced from N15, 000 to N8, 400 and driver’s licence from N6, 000 to N4, 000.

Those of articulated vehicles was reduced to N11, 200 from N20, 000 as stipulated by the FRSC, while privileged numbers and fancy or personalised number plates were left as recommended by the FRSC. However, dealer number plates which cost N30, 000 before now, was slashed to N16, 800.

The Senate, therefore, lifted the suspension on the issuance of the number plates and new driver’s licences, just as it barred the police from conducting another vehicle registration. The Senate, which adopted all the recommendations of its Committee on Federal Character and Inter-Governmental Affairs, approved the recommendation that the deadline for compliance with the new scheme be extended from August 2012 to February 2013, which was later postponed to September, 31, 2013.

An obvious physical feature on the new number plate is the Nigerian map, centrally placed and green boarder on the lower part. Toriola, while speaking with Vanguard at the weekend, said the new number plates aimed, among others, to reduce criminal activities nationwide, adding that the new system had “an outstanding benefit over the old ones”.

Howerver, a source at the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, who preferred anonymity, disclosed that, out of about 1.1 million registered vehicles in Lagos, only 300,000 or 27.3 per cent had been issued the new number plates.


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