Posted by Kemi Obasola on
Basic test requirements for the issuance of a driver’s licence are the least administered on prospective applicants in Lagos State in a system characterised by proxy dealings.
Basic test requirements for the issuance of a driver’s licence are the least administered on prospective applicants in Lagos State in a system characterised by proxy dealings. This much has been revealed by investigations by our correspondent at the state Ministry of Transportation, Vehicle Inspectorate Office and the sector command of the Federal Road Safety Commission.
“People don’t undergo driving test; they just learn the practical aspect,” asserts the Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Ministry of Transport, Mr. Segun Ogundeji.
An applicant for a driver’s licence is expected to be subjected to a practical driving test and a medical test to determining the state of his sight. Theoretical tests are also conducted to ascertain the applicant’s understanding of highway codes – including traffic rules and road signs. The results and certificate numbers of such tests are expected to form the basis of the recommendation of the Road Traffic Officer of the VIO on the FRSC form RS FORM NDL-18N before a licence is issued.
Our correspondent however gathered that virtually all the 163,231 licences processed by the FRSC between 2002 and 2004 were in disregard of the test requirements. Most licences are actually processed by proxy.
Kunle Olapade, an accountant, gave N5,000 and his personal data to his friend and he got the licence after a week.
John Akpose, a commercial bus driver, claims that his wife paid N4,500 to an official of the FRSC and got the licence three days later. He says, “Nobody goes through any test, that is only a formality. If you have the money, you already have the licence, test or no test.”
At the VIO, records of applications and tests were not available to verify the claim that some applicants were actually subjected to the required test.
An official in the VIO who craved anonymity said that 4,551 licences were issued between January and June 2005 even though the records could not be provided.
This negligence, according to some motorists who spoke with our correspondent, accounted largely for the increasing carnage on Lagos roads.
Records at the ministry show that there were 540 road accidents involving 1,374 vehicles between January and June 2005 out of which 106 people were confirmed dead and 321 were injured.
Ogundeji did not dispute the role of uncertified drivers in road accidents but blamed the trend on the complication created by the Federal Government by vesting the processing and printing of the licence in the FRSC.
According to him, most untested yet certified drivers were those who avoided the practical test prescribed by the ministry and paid their ways through at the office of the FRSC. Ogundeji observes that the FRSC often prints excess licences which are sold out to proxy applicants.
Though the official cost of a licence is N3,050, such proxy applicants pay between N4,500 and N5,000 and get it earlier than it takes test-ready applicants. While test-ready applicants wait endlessly for their licence, it takes maximum of a week to attend to a proxy applicant.
The General Manager of the state Transport Management Authority, Mr. Ayodeji Oyedokun, confirms to our correspondent that Lagos roads are replete with uncertified drivers.
He also laments that previous records of accidents in the state were inaccurate. Effective accidents record keeping, according to him, started in January 2005. “In the past, the state had to rely on police records, hospital records and records from rescue agencies which were not reliable at all,” he says.
The Lagos Zonal Commander of the FRSC, Mr. Ayobami Omiyale, dismisses Ogundeji’s allegations against the FRSC but admits that the process of issuance of driver’s licence is fraught with irregularities which he says the commission is already working hard to check.
He told our correspondent that most of the licences brandished by Lagos drivers were obtained from Oluwole, a Lagos hideout known for fake production of security documents. “You should know that among those items recovered at Oluwole few weeks ago were driver’s licences. The technology used by FRSC is available in the open market; so, some people may not even go through the appropriate quarters to get their licence. The cards, printer, holograms, ribbons, are available in the open market. What else does a faker need to produce a licence?” he asks.
The PUNCH, Friday September 30, 2005
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