In its efforts to further improve the safety and security of commuters as they go about their business in Lagos, the state government has launched a new scheme which requires all taxi operators to register their details with government before operating in the state in line with Regulation 40 of the Road Traffic Law 2012.
Speaking while launching the scheme on Thursday, 23rd April, 2015, at the BlueRoof Hall, LTV Complex, Agidingbi, the State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN said the new Lagos Taxi licenses with present street value of N100,000.00 each which is being distributed free of charge to taxi drivers has several embedded features such as the photograph of the owner, his name, his address including fingerprints which is with the state under the Residence Registration scheme and the Lagos State Public Transportation Management System.
He said from the records, what the state has on the database is 12,617 drivers that are already captured and 10,882 vehicles that are part of the total taxis registered under the new taxi license scheme.
He stressed that the assurance the state government to residents of the state is that if they enter a licensed taxi in Lagos, they are safe and as such they should not patronize unregistered taxis because they would be putting their safety in jeopardy by doing so.
“We feel confident that from today parents and guardians will feel secure to allow their children enter taxis the way it used to happen
when I was a teenager. We moved around Lagos in taxis and nothing bad happened to us. We must get our children back to use the public
transport system. Not every parent can buy a car for their child. We must get our children back to using the bus system. That is the way that we would claim our civilization”, he added.
According to the Governor, the intervention by government has also engendered positive lifestyle changes because there were hitherto only two ways one could get a taxi: either by going to the park or flagging one down by the roadside. However, with the intervention, people can actually call a taxi on phone now and a taxi would be brought to their house.
“When we started installing street signs and putting house numbers some people did not understand what we were up to. But just imagine what this street signs and house numbers have done. If we now have a taxi system, we have the telephone numbers but you cannot get to the address because they do not have the street signs. So we have connected the little piece of our society together, the taxi system, the telephone system, a public street identification system and a house numbering system to create a complete network”, he explained.
Governor Fashola stressed that the new licensing system is not just a government policy but actually a business support programme with many impacts in which the operators and the state government are partners.
He said in many parts of the world, proceeds from taxi business have been used to support many families and train many people who have led eminent lives, adding that such represents the destination that the state has in mind that taxi driving is actually a profession that creates a very respectable status in society.
The Governor said what the state Government is giving out is a business model that will not die with the owners because many people have run the business and once they die, the business also dies but that the State is keen on facilitating a business that is organized and regulated.
“The license does not only attach to the vehicle, it also attaches to the holder, so whether the taxi vehicle changes or has an accident, whether you decide to sell it, your license to operate the business remains in your name and the name of your company, irrespective of how you register it”.
“It becomes transferable, so you can sell your vehicle but your license remains with you unless you now choose to sell by the time you value it or use it to borrow money. So unless you sign on that you have transferred it, we would not change the holder in our register”, he reiterated.
The Governor also said the new Taxi license also provides consumer protection as it makes it necessary for all the operators to come under an insurance scheme to ensure safety of their passengers.
He explained that what this translates to is that with effect from the launch, there cannot be any illegal taxi operation anymore in the state as all the kabukabus must mandatorily come under the scheme and citizens must know this.
He warned that all those who seek to operate taxis without registering should realize that they are law breakers and will be made to face the law urging the enforcement agencies of LASTMA, VIO and Police to take note.
Speaking on the impact the new license scheme would have on tourism, the Governor said that the future of Lagos would be largely assisted by the prosperity that would come from tourism, stressing that without
transportation there is no tourism as it is about getting to destinations on time.
He also said many of those tourism sites in Badagry are close to completion just as the roads are also coming close to completion, stating that work has also been finished in the Lekki Conservation Centre where the highest skywalk and bird view facility in the whole of West Africa has been built.
“The Apapa Amusement Park is almost completed and hopefully would be completed before we leave office so this would be destinations that people would want to go to and it is taxis that will take them there”. he said
The Lagos State helmsman informed that the initial intention of the state was to limit participation in the new license scheme to people with vehicles that were not older than five years but after due consideration of current economic realities of the country, Government has agreed to extend it to 12 years.
He said it was not really about the age of the vehicle but the quality of the maintenance of the vehicle and that such vehicles must be subject to VIO clearance and certification because of the safety of those who use the vehicles.
Reacting to fears expressed by one of the officials of the taxi operators about the bill on the new taxi system which is yet to be passed by the state House of Assembly, the Governor said there are laws that prescribes regulation of operation of vehicles that are used for commercial purposes.
On the activities of competitors, the Governor said the taxi operators should not be afraid of competition because their business rivals do not have their number and their strength, adding that what they have is an application and that nothing stops the taxi operators from developing their own application, adding that he was ready to assist in that regard.
The Governor who also lent his support to the campaign for a judicious use of the horn appealed to commercial vehicle operators to cultivate the habit of driving without noise.
“We can drive without noise. We must understand that the horn is a warning sign, not a musical instrument. When I hear a horn, I must feel that something is unsafe. I drive round at night and see it myself. Observe the no horn rule in schools, libraries and hospitals. Let us go back to those days when we reduce noise in our society”, he stressed.
Speaking earlier, the state Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Kayode Opeifa said the new taxi licensing scheme is about empowering the taxi operators and ensuring that they become professionalized.
He said the scheme has undergone several fine tuning following series of meetings and consultations between the operators of the taxis and the state government before finally arriving at the launch programme.
In a message of goodwill, the President of the Lagos State Taxi Cab Association of Nigeria, Prince Tajudeen Adetoro expressed the appreciation of the taxi operators to the state government for fulfilling its promise.
He said initially the operators embraced the scheme with skepticism because they did not fully understand what it entailed until it was fully explained and they have now realized that it is a very beneficial programme to all operators.
Also speaking, the President of Oredegbe Taxi sector, Comrade Saka Ayinde expressed appreciation to the Governor for a promise made and promise kept to the taxi operators in the state.
He urged all his colleagues to make good use of the opportunity provided for them with the multifarious benefits derivable from the taxi licensing scheme so that they can all live improved lives.
The Governor later distributed the new taxi license to many of the operators at the event which also attracted the Vice Chairman of the State Council of Obas and Chiefs and Alara of Ilara, Oba Akeem Adesanya and several taxi operators and corporate cab operators across the state.