By Adekunle Adekoya
AS I observed in last week’s edition of this column, the year 2022, which will come in 27 days thence promises to be momentous for ordinary Nigerians, in so far as making ends meet is concerned.
With subsidy on petrol removed, and the commodity selling for nearly double what it sells for now, its impact on prices, especially of food items, are for now best left to the imagination.
Ditto for electricity tariff, and if you add the railings from stakeholder groups like organised labour and the students, in addition to whatever restrictions Omicron, the latest COVID-19 variant will bring, it seems we are in for a tumultous season.
Certainly indications are that life and living in this part of the world are set for some disruptions which will definitely take their toll on the hitherto elastic capacity of Nigerians to absorb the rudest of shocks.
One, therefore, expects that governments at the national and sub-national levels will be in overdrive, working to ensure that effects of the aforementioned are at least bearable to some extent. That does not seem to be so in Lagos State, for now. Last Friday, the Lagos State government announced that beginning January 1, 2022, no vehicle within its borders would be issued road worthiness certificates without physical inspection.
State Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, who spoke during a stakeholders meeting which took place at Vehicle Inspection Service, VIS, headquarters in Ojodu Berger, Lagos, said motorists would have to present their vehicles for physical inspection at designated computerised vehicle inspection centres across the state before they would be issued a road worthiness certificate.
According to him, this is to further strengthen the safety of the roads by ensuring that all vehicles plying Lagos roads are road-worthy. He said the new policy is geared towards making the road safe for all users and in line with the THEMES agenda of the Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s administration.
Oladeinde’s words: “No one would be able to obtain road worthiness certificate anywhere in the state without the Vehicle Inspection Service, LACVIS, certifying such vehicles road worthy.”
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Elaborating, Oladeinde said that if the vehicle passed the minimum safety standard of the computerised test, such vehicles would be issued the certificate and anyone whose vehicle failed the tests would be given one month grace period within which to fix the problems on such vehicles after which such would be returned for certification test upon which a road worthiness certificates would thereafter be issued. He said any motorists who failed to have his vehicle repaired within the grace period would have to process another road worthiness certificate to enjoy the 30 days grace.
I have opted to draw copiously from Oladeinde’s conversation with “stakeholders” to enable the Lagos motorists and non-motorists understand the premise from which government is coming, and discern whether it is in his/her interest.
From where I stand, desirable as computerised vehicle roadworthiness tests may be, it is ill-timed, punitive, capricious and calculated to siphon more money out of the pockets of motorists who are already over-stretched. Here’s why.
If cars and buses must be roadworthy, it is normal and justifiable to expect good roads. Just how many roads in Lagos State are car-worthy? Apart from the major arteries, many roads in the residential areas of the fully-built local government areas are in bad shape.
Many of them are simply not motorable. The situation in the suburbs and outliers are far worse. Daily, citizens send messages to the radio stations, calling attention to the deplorable conditions of roads in their areas.
The messages are aired even on the state-owned radio service, Radio Lagos. Suburbs like Egan, Igando, Ipaja, Aboru, Agbado, Alakuko and others which are in Alimosho, the state’s electoral warehouse are suffering greatly on account of unmotorable access roads. Those in the Ikorodu areas of Gberigbe, Igbogbo, Adamo, Imota and others are living in purgatory.
Let me not talk about the horror being endured by people living in communities served by the Lagos-Badagry Expressway, which itself is a disgrace to both the federal and state governments. Citizens in communities that use Old Ojo Road must be wondering what their offence is, while people in Satellite Town and adjoining areas go to hell and back daily.
Further down, many citizens in Ajangbadi, Okokomaiko, Oko-Afo, Iyana-Ishasi, Agbara, and onward to Badagry have abandoned their cars and houses due to transportation problems. It is that bad.
Plying the bad roads daily, Lagos vehicle owners simply work to feed spare parts dealers and mechanics, who in turn smile daily to the banks? In addition vehicle tyres get worn out on these bad roads faster than their life span, causing vulcanisers to make easy money from motorists. Should that be our lot?
Again, our people will not get service at these inspection centres. A cursory visit to similar centres will explain why. They will, in a matter of days become business centres. In any case, what happened to the MOT initiative of the Tinubu administration? Isn’t governance supposed to be a continuum? That was more friendly. Why not revive it?
I think the Lagos State Government and its Ministry of Transportation should focus more on its “First Mile, Last Mile” initiative and make it work. Can’t it be seen that lack of motorable feeder roads is the bane of that policy?
Most times, all of us are on the major arteries which are longer because the feeders which are shorter are not motorable. More effort should be directed towards making traffic move in all parts of the famed mega city by tackling the devils that hold us ransom in form of agberos, okada riders, danfo drivers and truckers who wreak mayhem on the roads daily. That is what the Ministry of Transportation should be doing, not inflicting more pains on vehicle owners.
In fact, road worthiness tests for vehicles without roads that are car-worthy are exploitative, inhuman, unjust, and cruel. Lagos State, Government must stop that physical inspection directive now!