By Nelson Ekujumi
It’s a truism of life that, no pain, no gain. This saying is best captured by the inconvenience and pains of a nine months pregnancy whose gain is the safe delivery of a bouncing baby boy or girl, which brings joy not only to the parents and the extended family, but the society at large.
The above narration best captures the state of vehicle inspection in Lagos state today with the computerized vehicle inspection service under the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration, which has witnessed tremendous leap in terms of the automation of the process for ease, transparency, accountability and eliminated all the encumbrances associated with the human factor in public engagements.
Before one goes further to narrate his experience lately with the vehicle inspection service in Lagos state, it would be appropriate to place the issues in proper perspective for the education and sensitization of younger elements, so that they can better understand and appreciate the workings of government which it has always been emphasized to be a continuum.
It’s an indisputable fact that a great legacy of the Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu administration in Lagos state 1999-2007, is that it laid the groundwork for most of the innovative and ease of public service interface with the populace in terms of delivery of government services as the seeds planted by the Tinubu administration has continued to germinate and harvested by his successors: Babatunde Raji Fashola, Akinwunmi Ambode and now Babajide Olusola Sanwo-Olu.
These ideas are what has made Lagos state to repeatedly shine like a million stars and become a reference point of governance not only in Nigeria, but in sub-saharan Africa and beyond.
One recollects that in late November 2021, the Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation Mr. Fred Oladeinde announced to the whole world that as from January 1st 2022, the old order of obtaining road worthiness certificate without subjecting the vehicles to physical examination will no longer exist, as the possession of a road worthiness certificate for vehicles on Lagos roads will be based on a computerized examination of the vehicles at designated VIS centres scattered across the state.
Following this announcement, the news was taken with mixed feelings by Lagosians, as some pessimists including yours sincerely queried if the state had enough centres with the computerized equipment to cope with the army of vehicles expected.
Come January 1st 2022 as promised by the Lagos state Commissioner for Transportation, the new policy came into effect as vehicle owners trooped to the VIS centres for the examination. Alas, all hell broke loose as the crowd of vehicles that thronged the centres on a daily basis created a crisis of lack of enough centres to cope with the vehicles, the resultant effect was that the new policy caused a lot of pain as Lagosians jostled to get their vehicles examined and in some cases, had to repeat the visits to the centres for days without success, the pain and inconvenience were unbearable.
The situation was so bad that to get your vehicle examined at the centres, you either had to sleep overnight close to the centres or be there the following day as early as 4am or 5am, God help you if you get to the centre at 7am, the number of vehicles that you will meet ahead of you, will make you know that you will never get a space for the inspection of your vehicle that day. Vehicle owners repeated visits to the centres on a daily basis with no success.
As a result of the crisis of the computerized examination of vehicles due to lack of enough centres to cope with the deluge of vehicles and the pains that vehicle owners were subjected to, Lagosians cried out and the issue became a subject matter of public discourse. Infact, news started filtering in that the human factor that was aimed to be eliminated by the computerized examination, was being defeated as it was alleged that to get your vehicles slated for examination as early as possible, palms had to be greased, whether true or not, the rumour gained ground sadly.
Following this development, pessimists like yours sincerely felt that he has been proved right and started saying that, “I knew that this policy cannot work, no be Nigeria?”
But to our shock and disappointment, the Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration, announced a moratorium of 3 months extension for expired road worthiness certificate holders in order to ease the backlog of arrears of vehicles that were due and also intensified the expansion and creation of more vehicle inspection centres to cope with the traffic of vehicles. Subsequently, new applicants for vehicle examination were allocated specific dates at centres chosen and admonished to make their vehicles available on the said dates because the calendar for vehicles examination at the centres had been planned.
One year down the ladder, the system has begun to evolve seamlessly, that to get your vehicle examined today, one can take his vehicle to the centres at anytime of the day and before the official close of work, it will be done.
Another beauty of the system, is that by the computerized examination of the vehicles, a lot of vehicles are saved the mishap of accident and its resultant effect that could have occurred as a result of a faulty part in the vehicle, such that even when a vehicle fails the integrity test, the cause of failure will be identified and the owner told to go and fix it to come back for re-examination at a new date at no extra cost.
How one wishes, the Lagos state Ministry of Transportation will undertake a research of the rate of vehicle breakdowns and accidents on Lagos roads before and after the implementation of this computerized vehicle and make a comparison for public education and enlightenment to further give fillip to the saying that, “no pain, no gain” as Lagosians are the better and gainer with this computerized vehicle examination po
° Ekujumi is the Executive Director,
Centre for Social and Economic Rights (CSER)