By AYOOLA OLAOLUWA
There is no respite for motorists in Lagos as the chaotic implementation of the No Vehicle Inspection, No Road Worthiness Certificate policy recently introduced by the state government entered its third month.
The new policy which commenced on January 1, 2022, it would be recalled, had replaced the old system where motorists obtained roadworthiness certificates without submitting their vehicles for inspection.
Under the old regime, vehicle owners were only issued referral notes to visit any of the test centres for inspection within thirty days after paying for and receiving the certificate.
However, the system was undermined by most vehicle owners who failed to turn up for testing at approved centres, leading to the prevalence of non-roadworthy vehicles plying the roads.
According to BH findings, most Lagosians erroneously believe that the process of obtaining a certificate ends after paying the required fees and a certificate had been issued.
“Why go back again for testing after a certificate has been issued to me? Is the certificate not suppossed to be a testament that my vehicle is road worthy?”, a motorist responded after he was asked whether he had ever taken his car for testing within the 30 days window allowed by law.
In order to correct the anomaly, the state government had in December 2021 announced the introduction of the new ‘No Vehicle Inspection, No Road Worthiness Certificate policy where motorists must physically present their vehicles for inspections and evaluations before they can obtain roadworthiness certificates.
No one would be able to obtain roadworthiness certificate anywhere in the state without the Vehicle Inspection Service (LACVIS) physically certifying such vehicles roadworthy, the state Commissioner for Transportation, Fredrick Oladeinde, had disclosed in December 2021.
The commissioner for transportation noted that motorists who failed to have their vehicles repaired within the 30 days period would have to process another roadworthiness certificate (which comes with the payment of another fee).
Meanwhile, the new arrangement, findings revealed, is causing hardship for many motorists who daily sweat under the scorching sun as they await their turns to have their vehicles inspected at the 27 approved tests centres scattered across the state.
When BH visited the two designated tests centres situated at the Lagos Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS) offices on Ogunnusi Road in Ojodu and the one at Palm-View Estate, Suco Bus-stop, Opposite RRS Command, Oko-Oba, Agege last week, many motorists, mostly private car owners, were seen waiting endlesslly in the sun for their turn to be called into the computerized vehicle inspection centres.
At the VIS headquarters on Ogunnusi Road, Ojodu, our correspondent counted over 100 vehicle owners at about 2.25pm waiting to have their vehicles inspected.
While some of the vehicles that came for inspection were parked inside the VIS premises, the majority who could not find space inside had to park on the road outside the VIS building that also houses the Lagos Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
All the motorist who spoke with our correspondent faulted the tedious process of the inspection, while lamenting that they had been on queue for over seven hours.
A car owner, Sunday Apantaku, who spoke with BH at the gate of the VIS office after he had succeeded in having his vehicle inspected, said he arrived at the test centre around 5:30am in order to be called in early but was not called in until around 12.30pm.
“You can see the time I am just leaving since 5.30am I arrived here. This is already 2.30pm and there are still many people inside. I doubt if they are all going to be attended to today.
“It is quite unfortunate that this is happening to us despite the fact that we booked online and were given appointments to come today.
“I learnt the process is even better now as those that came when the inspection was still a “free for all” affair have tales of woes to tell”, the visibly exhausted Atanpaku stated.
Another motorist, Bimbo Ilesanmi, said she had been coming to the centre since the last four days to have her vehicle inspected without success, despite having confirmed bookings.
“Today is the fourth day that I have been coming here. I should have been attended to now but the process is corrupted. I saw several vehicles without confirmed booking been brought in.
“If you were here around 10am, you would have witnessed a rowdy scene where motorists protested against the bringing in of vehicles without appointments.
“It took the intervention of a senior VIS official to calm agitated motorists who insisted that no other inspection will take place unless due process is followed”, Ilesanmi noted.
Some of the motorists also alleged that they had been trying to get their vehicles inspected for over a week, noting that they might not meet up with the new 60-day window allowed by the service.
The situation is not different at the VIS inspection centre at Oko-Oba, Agege, with many motorist lamenting their plight while trying to get their vehicles certified.
“I choose Oko Oba in Agege, thinking it would be less congested like the Ojodu office. But the crowd here seems to be much larger. I learnt people are troopping here from as far as Dopemu, Ogba, Iju, Ishaga, Ijaiye, Elliot, Abule Egba, Meiran, Alagbado and many far places.
“This is my second day (Thursday) here without achieving anything. The situation is worsened by LASMA and task force officials who regularly harass motorists for parking on the road.
“Why would the VIS give appointments to more than 100 vehicles to come at the same time when it knows that it doesn’t have enough parking place for them to park?
“The situation is like we are jumping from the fry pan to fire. Despite not getting our vehicles inspected and issued road worthiness certificates, traffick officials are compounding the problem by towing away our vehicles citing obstrustion”, Mr. Bayo Shoaga, a retired civil servant lamented.
BH learnt that the chaotic situation is common in most of the inspection centres, apart from those on the island.
A VIS official who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, said the service have been advising motorists discretely to take their vehicles to the low density inspection centre at Ibeju Lekki.
“As you know, the mainland is highly populated and crowded. Most of the vehicles in the state are on the mainland. Even most vehicles that visit the island daily originate from the mainland.
“So we have been advising some motorists close to us to take their vehicles to the centres on the island. You just drive in and within 15 minutes you are through”, the official disclosed.
BH observed that only private vehicles are showing up at the 27 designated centres for inspection, with commercial vehicles, particularly the rickety Danfo buses that ply the state roads virtually absent from the centres.
However, a VIS official at the Ojodu test centre informed correspondent that commervial vehicles were not excluded from the new inspection policy.
Weve only been seeing private car owners. Commercial drivers are not complying but we know what to do about that, he said.
The state transport commissioner also disclosed the compliant rate by commercial motorists is very low, but assured that vehicle inspection officers are currently engaging commercial drivers at various motor parks for vehicle checks to bring in their vehicles for inspection.
Our correspondent, however learnt that some commercial drivers defied the order of their national union, the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), not to present their vehicles for inspection.
The driver of a commercial bus popularly called Danfo, Ahmed Taju, informed our correspondent that the policy does not exclude commercial vehicles and that it has already started with buses.
“I took my bus to the Ojodu centre 4 times and they failed me the 4 times just because of my brake. If your hand brake is not working well or your brake is not good, dont even bother to go there at all as they will check everything, including your horn.
“The last time I went I had to go with my mechanic who help fixed all their complaints right there in their premises. Each time he was done, I drive in again to be inspected, not bothering about the official’s loud protests.
“They had no option but to clear my that day. But it came at a cost. I spent close to N100,000 in spare parts and labour costs. So, If you are not sure of the condition of your vehicle, please go with your mechanic to avoid being asked to come back”, declared Ahmed.
Investigation revealed that it will take around nine years for all motorists to get their vehicles inspected and certified at the current speed if there is no improvement in the process.
According to data mined from the state governments official website, there are over five million cars and 200,000 commercial vehicles on the roads of Lagos.
In Lagos State, only vehicles that are less then five years old are excluded from obtaining certificates of road worthiness. Out of the vehicles (5.2million), it was gathered that only 500,000 are brand new and below the 5 years age and are not affected by the road worthiness policy.
Meanwhile, the assesment report of how the policy performed in January released by the state commissioner for transportation showed that out of 26,442 vehicles inspected in January, 15,998 passed, while 10,444 failed the minimum safety standard tests.
The state government is yet to release the performance report for February 2021. However, a breakdown of the figure shows that an average of 944 vehicles were processed daily in all the 28 test centres in the 28 days in February.
If the trend continues till December 2022, only 317.304 vehicles vehicles will be inspected out of the available vehicles above 5 years old, leaving a deficit of 4.2million vehicles waiting for inspection, without adding the about 5,500 imported vehicles that enters the state’s road every month.
According to available records, around 150,000 new and fairly used vehicles are imported into the country yearly, with more than 50% ending up on Lagos roads.
Meanwhile, in a move to resolve the bottlenecks and hardships being experienced by motorists, the state government recently extended the 30 days window of inspection period to 60 days to reduce the panic surge currently seen in some of the inspection test centres.
With this, policymakers expect the backlog of already referred vehicles to be cleared soon in order to give room for the new booking system.
Apart from this, the state government has concluded consultations with private partners with vehicle inspection facilities to increase the existing 27 centres spread across the state, with five more mobile test centres already on the way.