Over forty percent of commercial vehicle drivers in the Lagos metropolis engage in the transport business without valid drivers’ licence, investigation has revealed.
Out of the over 100 drivers interviewed, over25 of them blamed the trend on the corrupt nature of the society, insisting that once government officials saddled with the responsibility of issuing the documents compromised, they were left with no other choice than to continue to flout the law.
“We are in a society filled with hungry people. Everybody is looking for what to eat. A little tip here and there could put food on the table of officials who have to rely on monthly salaries that would not be paid by the government,” a Danfo driver plying the Agege-Oshodi route, Mr. Rasaq Balogun, explained.
Balogun added that an average Danfo driver having a target to meet, may not necessarily have the time to go to a licensing office to obtain a valid driver’s licence.
According to him, the exercise was time-wasting and causes delay due to various other administrative bottlenecks.
“Go to any of the centres, they [officials] will demand money from you before doing the capturing of your data. Everything is money. You need money. The government needs money and I need money. So, we use money to settle money-related issues”, he said.
While 45 percent others blamed government for not making the laws potent enough to deal with erring drivers, they were quick to add that periodic checks on commercial vehicle owners/ drivers would go a long way to put things in a better stead.
“There should be a potent law in place to deal decisively with defaulters. But very unfortunate, and tragically, too, erring drivers are either given a slap on the wrist or given a mere warning,” Doyinbo Ade-Chukwuma said.
He further told our correspondent that the rate of automobile accidents on our streets would be a thing of the past if “drivers are made to undergo tests before the issuance of licence.”
Of course, ten percent of our respondents advocated continuing education of the general public on the need for drivers, especially those involved in commercial transportation operations, to go for tests that could put them on a vantage position while on the wheels.
“In case of fatal accident, a driver without a valid licence would be compounding felony, which would in a way aggravate the problem. We do not need to wait till a problem of that nature occurs. Those drivers who drive recklessly on our streets are barely educated or, perhaps, are ignorant of the law. Hence, there is always a need for education,” a commercial driver, Biola Osilaja, said.
Corroborating Osilaja, Chairman of National Union of Road Transport Workers in Lagos, Mr. Tajudeen Agbede, said, “Any professional driver worth his salt must have a valid driver’s licence. It is a qualification on its own. I have always been telling my men to have it before driving. I do not even think that any reasonable person, too, would risk giving out his vehicle to a driver who does not have a valid licence”, he said.
Agbede insisted that virtually all the members of his union, who are drivers or vehicle owners, possessed valid licence to practice, adding, “Today, there are many shades of drivers out there. But my people are law abiding individuals. We have an internal mechanism of checking their excessiveness,” he said.
About ten percent of others declined to comment and even respond to our questions, saying the issue was none of any journalist’s business.