The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babatunde Fashola, SAN, on Thursday, 26th February, 2015, held an interactive session with all Lagos State taxi and cab operators (yellow and modern) on the introduction of a new uniform licensing for all taxis operating in Lagos, with the state government endorsing a unanimous agreement by the stakeholders present for the state to bring all taxis under a single uniform licensing scheme.
Addressing the large gathering of representatives of taxi cab operators, modern cab operators, the taxi section of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and Oredegbe Taxi Transport Service at the Blue Roof Hall, LTV Complex, Agidingbi, Governor Fashola also endorsed the unanimous decision of the stakeholders that the state government should change the five years date of manufacture limit placed on all vehicles to be used as taxis in Lagos to 12 years in view of the downturn in the nation’s economy.
He stressed that the state government would still permit taxi operators who have the capacity to purchase new cabs to be used as yellow taxis to do so but would not insist on only the use of new ones to operate.
The Governor, however, emphasized that only such vehicles that have passed the road worthiness certification of the Vehicle Inspection Service would be allowed to be deployed on the road as licensed taxis.
The state government also endorsed the decision of the stakeholders to allow all unpainted taxis that have collected the uniform license to get into the scheme and be painted yellow to operate in the state.
He added that the State’s transport policy bill is now before the State House House Assembly where work is progressing on its consideration prior to its passage and subsequent assent by the Governor.
Governor Fashola reiterated that the present administration in Lagos has always ensured that all stakeholders are carried along in the process of policy formulation through the holding of public hearings before such bills become laws.
Still speaking on the uniform licensing scheme, the Governor said for those who have travelled outside the country to countries like Dubai and United Kingdom, they see some of the innovative usage to which taxis have been put, adding that such innovations are being brought to Nigeria by the state government.
He added that another merit of the uniform license scheme for taxis is that though the vehicles can get old, the uniform license would not get old and can even be used as collaterals to obtain loans.
The Governor also admonished the taxi and cab operators that though they do not have specific bus stops, taxis should not stop in the middle of the road as this is not only unacceptable but would create traffic bottlenecks.
While speaking on some of the giant strides of the State Government in the transportation sector, the Governor sought to know what the experience of the taxi drivers have been on roads like Mile 12 to Ikorodu, the Eko Bridge, Yaba to Alhaji Masha flyover portion and WEMPCO road.
They all chorused they now have smooth motoring experience as a result of the exertions and investments of the administration to ensure that they are in good state.
He said a comparison should be drawn between what the Lekki- Epe Expressway looks like now and what it used to look like as at 2002, adding that the place where the Toll Gate is located now on the Lekki-Epe Expressway is where the former Maroko was.
He said the Toll Gate which has provided jobs to several unemployed people is the same one that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship candidate, Mr Jimi Agbaje has promised to demolish if he ever got into office.
He said the President on the other hand, whom he learnt has been making repeated visits to Lagos since the elections approached has not succeeded in repairing the road that leads to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport which he promised to fix four years ago.
He reiterated that the question that Lagosians should pose to the President should focus on how many times he had visited Lagos before now to see to the welfare of the people and why he feels he could now visit frequently to solicit for their votes.
According to Fashola, Lagos State has spent over N51 Billion on renovating federal roads without any reimbursement by the Federal Government just like several federal roads like the Apapa- Oshodi Expressway is still in very deplorable state.
Responding to a complaint by some of the Taxi Drivers Operators about the alleged excesses of Vehicle Inspection Service (VIS) and Lagos State Traffic Management Authority Officers, the Governor said the Taxi operators must realize that the traffic regulatory agencies are at work for the good of society just as the taxi drivers are and that at all times the Taxi drivers must obey traffic rules.
He reminded that what the traffic agencies are engaging in is all about ensuring security of life and property and that all taxis and vehicles that ply the roads must have their vehicle papers and insurance certificates as well as all vehicle signals in place.
Fashola also urged the operators at the various Taxi parks to ensure that they remain watchful and vigilant about happenings in the parks, adding that they must not relent in the checks that they carry out at the garages.
Stressing the need for the cab operators to exercise their franchise to sustain good governance in the State, Fashola also informed that from tomorrow, Friday till Sunday, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) in the State will return the uncollected Permanent Voters Cards to the polling units for distribution to eligible voters in the State between the hours of 8.30am and 5.30pm.
Governor Fashola also formally handed over the All Progressives Congress (APC) Gubernatorial candidate, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode and his running mate, Dr (Mrs) Oluranti Adebule to the leaders of the various taxi cabs association as the candidate to be supported.
Speaking earlier, the President of the Taxi Cab operators in Lagos State, Prince Tajudeen Adetoro said the taxi/cab operators have always been very unflinching in their support of the state government and would also do the same again.
He said over 75 percent of the operators have already obtained their Permanent Voter’s Cards (PVCs) and that there are 125 members in each of the 289 taxi parks in the state.
He sought the assistance of the state government in allowing unpainted taxi vehicles operating in the state to be accommodated into the unified licensing scheme for taxis which is about to be introduced.
The Chairman of the Modern Cab Operators Association, Mr Adeboye Ajakaiye in his address, commended the Governor for opening new vistas of opportunity for private investment in the operation of cabs.
He sought the assistance of the state government in ensuring that expedited action is taken by the state House of Assembly to ensure that the bill on regulation of taxis operations in the State is passed into law quickly.
The Chairman of the Taxi section of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Otunba Olatunji Odujobi and President of Oredegbe Taxis Association, Mr Saka Ayinde both spoke on the need for the state government to relax the provision on the conversion of old vehicles without air conditioners in use as taxis to new ones and also assist in curbing the excesses of traffic regulating agencies like LASTMA and VIS.
The state Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Kayode Opeifa earlier in his introductory remarks had given an insight into why the meeting was convened, adding that it formed part of the policy of the state government in carrying its people along in every facet.
He said the meeting would also review all the requests of the operators of taxis and cabs in the state including the agreement to bring all taxis and cabs into a unified licensing scheme which he described as documents that could stand as collaterals.
The event was attended by stakeholders in the transport sector and members of the various taxi and cab operators associations in the state.