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TRANSPORT OPERATORS, OTHERS REJECT NEW NUMBER-PLATES, DRIVER'S LICENCE

By NBF News
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By BEN AGANDE
ABUJA - Road transport operators in the country have rejected the new number- plates and driver's licence introduced by Federal Road Safety Commission, FRSC.

Road transport operators made up of National Union of Road Transport Workers, NURTW, Nigerian Union of Road Transport Owners, NARTO and Nigerian Union of Road Transport Employers took this stand during a public hearing on drivers' licence organised by the House Committee on FRSC to phase out the number-plates and licence.

They argued that the new policy would add to their burdens and passengers who would end up bearing the cost.

Representative of NURTW, Mr. Frank Ujara, while kicking against the new policy, called for reduction of the cost of acquiring number-plates.

He said: 'Our stand on the policy is that FRSC should reduce the cost of purchasing licence plates so that it doesn't translate to hike in fees paid by passengers.'

NARTO representative, Alhaji Lawal Isa, who also kicked against new number-plates, observed that though the security aspect of the new registration is commendable, said the technology component of the number-plates are faulty.

He described the phasing out of the old number-plates as exploitative and insensitive to the plight of the people.

He said: 'FRSC should consider using the option of verification of drivers' data as a means to gathering information for building a databank', pointing out that the technological components which the commission claims to have imputed into the new plates are not up to standard to achieve their objectives.

'In addressing the core of the problem, FRSC should seek alternative methods like gathering of data through re-verification of drivers number-plates and licences and FRSC should maintain status quo and go back to the old plates and licence'.

Isa also recommended that if the project must continue, then people who still have valid licences or plates should be allowed to continue using them until the need for renewal arises so that they do not have to bear unnecessary addition cost burdens.

The Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, however, gave its support to FRSC though it had earlier opposed the introduction of the new policy because of its potential to address security challenges in the country.

NBA President, Joseph Daudu, who appeared before the committee, withdrew the earlier opposition of the association for the policy.

He also recommended that the National Assembly should consider reviewing the establishment Acts of the Police and the FRSC to address areas that create conflicting functions for both agencies.

But, in defence of the number-plates and licence, Corps Marshal, FRSC told the committee new number plates have additional security features that will help check road accidents and death.

He lamented that about 5,000 deaths are recorded on daily basis, without most of the culprit being apprehended.

Chairman of the Joint Tax Board, Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru who also supported the FRSC said the number plates would reduce racketeering and loss of revenue to government.

She told the committee that the new number plate as approved by the Joint Tax Board (JTB) including all the state tax boards, showed that the sum of N3,000 against N750 (old price) for motorcycle; N15,000 as against N2,500 (old price); N20,000 against N3,000 (old price) for Articulated vehicle; N40,000 against N6,000 (old price) for Out of Series; N80,000 against N18,000 (old price) for Fancy; N30,000 against N7,500 (old price) for Dealer; N15,000 against N5,000 (old price) for Government and N40,000 against N10,000 (old price) for Government Fancy.

She also disclosed that the JTB approved an upward review of Driver's licenses prices from N3,000 to N6,000 for vehicles while that of motorcyclists was raised from N1,500 to N3,000.