On Inspection Of Vehicles, Drivers’ Licences
WHEN the Corps Marshal of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Boboye Oyeyemi, stated the other day at a meeting with the Inspector-General of Police, Solomon Arase, that the inspection of vehicles and drivers’ licences by men of the Vehicle Inspectorate Officers (VIOs) is illegal, he could not have expressed any better the need to alleviate the suffering of motorists who are daily being harassed by several agencies over the same drivers’ licences and vehicles’ particulars. Since the FRSC boss, however, failed to categorically state that his organisation is the only one responsible for the inspection of vehicles and drivers’ licences, he left a very vital question unanswered as to the agency or agencies that rightfully have this responsibility. The result would be that multiple agencies would continue doing the same duty.
Sadly, this state of flux as regards the rightful agency or agencies to inspect vehicles and drivers’ licences has always paved the way for the constant harassment of motorists by sundry agencies like the Vehicle Inspectorate Office (VIO), the FRSC, the police, the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA), the Kick Against Indiscipline (KAI) and even soldiers. It is, therefore, necessary for the government to clearly define, which agency or agencies should be responsible for the inspection of vehicles and drivers’ licences. Surprisingly, in the case of the VIO and the FRSC, their stated functions indicate that both are empowered statutorily to issue driver’s licences. And the question is: why should the one agency that issues driver’s licences not have the sole power to inspect them?
Beyond checking the state of road worthiness of vehicles, the VIO claims to render the following services, among others: issuance of driver’s licences; authentication of existing driver’s licences; renewal of driver’s licences; and replacement of stolen or defaced driver’s licences. In fact, an applicant for a driver’s licence from the FRSC is referred to the VIOs for tests.
In Section10 (2) of the FRSC (Establishment Act) 2007, the following are listed as the functions of the agency: Clearing obstruction on the highways; preventing and minimising road traffic crashes; educating drivers, motorists and other members of the public on the proper use of the highways; designing and producing vehicle number plates and driver’s licences; conducting researches into the causes, effects and methods of preventing road traffic crashes; providing prompt attention and care to victims of road traffic crashes; determining and enforcing speed limits for all categories of road and vehicles; and cooperating with agencies and groups engaged in road safety activities to prevent crashes on the highways.
Certainly, it is part of the failure of the society that government agencies often neglect their core duties while they meddle in those of other bodies simply because they are spurred by the prospect of pecuniary gains. This is why it is imperative to streamline the functions of agencies like the police, FRSC, VIO and LASTMA, which are all now jostling to inspect vehicles and drivers’ licences. The laws must come out clearly on the duties of each and areas where they over-lap should be amended.
It is sad that this confusion would seem to have been deliberately encouraged by the governments at the federal and state levels which have turned the agencies into money-making ventures with revenue targets. Unfortunately, when the government gives these agencies financial targets, they are bound to go beyond their remit and do whatever they can to meet those financial goals. This is why at the least suspicion of a violation of a regulation, motorists are often unjustifiably penalised and are ordered to pay fines when some of such perceived offences should have rightly elicited from officials mere caution and more enlightenment.
Again, there would not have been much objection if citizens were convinced that the fines are going to the appropriate coffers to be used to improve the welfare of the generality of the people. But in most cases, this is not the case. The result is a monumental corruption and a breakdown of the system.
While it is necessary for the government to properly delineate the duties and create awareness about each of the agencies, it is equally incumbent on the citizens to educate themselves on their rights. They should stop putting themselves at the mercy of illegal acts by regulators. Thankfully, citizens have in the past taken some of these agencies to court in a bid to check their excesses and they have won. Until the government successfully clears the confusion over the functions of the afore-stated agencies, harassment of citizens will continue and their men will never operate within the confines of their statutorily defined duties.