…As Lagos explains the closure of multiple roads simultaneously across the state
By Olasunkanmi Akoni
As part of measures to curb the menace of touts on major highways, Lagos State Government on Tuesday announced the planned introduction of a consolidated N800 daily levy on the informal transport sector, scheduled to commence operation from February 1st, 2022.
Therefore, with regards to the N800 daily payment, each bus driver is expected to pay at least N288,000 annually into the state government’s coffers.
An independent group in 2021 had revealed following research that Lagos generated not less than N125 billion annually from the collection of levies from the transport sector.
Commissioner for Finance, Dr Rabiu Olowo, disclosed this on Tuesday, at an Inter-Ministerial press briefing in Alausa, Ikeja, on the planned introduction of the levy and public sensitization of affected members in the sector, mostly, National Union of Road Transport Union, NURTW.
The event, convened to announce the harmonization of the taxes paid by transporters to the state government, witnessed the signing of an agreement among parties.
Also in attendance were Special Adviser to the State Governor on Transportation, Mr Toyin Fayinka, Chairman and Secretary of Conference of 57, Mr David Kolade and Mr Razaq Ajala respectively.
Others included Chairman Lagos State Internal Revenue Service, LIRS, Mr Ayodele Subair, MD Lagos State Waste Management Authority, LAWMA, Mr Ibrahim Odumboni, National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Musilihu Akinsanya alias MC Oluomo, among others.
Olowo said each commercial bus operator would be entitled to a tax card daily to have a hitch-free exercise.
Olowo said, “Mr Governor has made it a priority to put the interest of Lagosians first that is why we all the stakeholders are here today. Before we came out, we have fought, disagreed and agreed on the need to have our consolidated informal transport sector levy.
“The government of Babajide Sanwo-Olu has inspired that we all come together to have a consolidated levy that takes care of personal income taxes, dues on environment Local Government levy and others. We want to reduce the multiplicity of collection taxes, dues and levies.”
While reiterating that an average bus driver currently pays not less than N3,000 daily as a levy, to union members, he said, “We want to harmonize, to have a single charge of N800. We want to moderate the fee payable to Government. This is a very insightful breakthrough for all those who do business within the informal transport sector in the state.”
Fayinka explained that with the new development, a bus driver who pays at any given local government at the point of departure, would not have to pay any levy again in the course of his journey on the highway.
“A bus driver from Badagry having paid N800 to Badagry local government and going to Mile 2, won’t pay again to Ojo local government. The payment of point of departure takes care of the daily levy and other charges by the government,” Fayinka stated.
On the mode of payment, MC Oluomo stated that the N800 would not cover the levy collected by the transport union members on the road, called, ‘agberos,’ saying it only affected the taxes and other charges being collected by Government.
According to him, “I want to make it clear that the N800 only cover all the money collected by the MDAs; it does not affect the NURTW ticket.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, at the maiden Lagos Traffic Radio 96.1FM and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority, LASTMA, engagement forum, with the theme: ‘Repositioning of Traffic Information Agencies for Better Performance’, at LTV ground, Agindigbi, Ikeja, has urged motorists to be patient with the state government over series of ongoing projects across the state as it aimed at easing off the menace of traffic congestion.
He stressed that the project was been executed to beat the June and July rainfalls, “because this is the right opportunity of the dry season to deliver the job. We are only appealing for understanding on the part of the public on the need to exercise patience.”
Omotoso stated: “Let me say this loud and clear: I will not join the rank of those who describe the Lagos traffic as a monster, bandying all manner of suspicious findings. Lagos is not in the rank of London, which has become “the most congested” as the world recovers from COVID-19. London drivers lost last year an average of 148hours to congestion at £1,211 per driver, according to INRIX.
“The “2021 Global Traffic Scorecard” states that London tops the list, followed by Paris, Brussels, Moscow, New York, Chicago and Rome. The others in the top ten are Bogota, Colombia, Palermo (Italy) and Istanbul (Turkey).
That Lagos is not here, not even in the first 20, means that the Sanwo-Olu administration is not joking with traffic management.
General Manager of Lagos Traffic Radion, Tayo Akanle, said the event was unique because it was the first time such an official engagement would be held between the two Agencies, despite the cordial relationship which started 10 years ago. He said, arguably, both agencies formed one of the strongest partnerships in the Lagos State Public Service as of today.
He assured that the dire need to interrogate the process of bringing forth traffic information, to come up with practicable solutions to challenges therein and ultimately improve the service delivery while adding value to motorists /commuters in Lagos, which was basically the reason for the engagement, would be robustly explored.