Senate begins hearing on new vehicle number plates and drivers’ licence

The Senate has invited the Transportation Minister, Idris Umar, chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru and the Chairman of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Osita Chidoka to a public hearing to resolve the controversy over the new driver’s licence and number plates scheme.

Others invited to the public hearing scheduled to start on Tuesday are representatives of the National Union of Road Transport Workers, Luxurious Bus Owners Association of Nigeria, Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria as well as the Directors of Vehicle Inspection Offices (VIO) from the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

The invitation was issued through the Senate committee on Federal Character and inter-governmental affairs.

The committee Chairman, Dahiru Awaisu Kuta has, however, dismissed insinuations that the proposed public hearing is a witch-hunt.

The Senate and the House of Representatives had earlier directed the FRSC to suspend the issuance of the new vehicle plate numbers and the drivers’ licence until a resolution is reached on the matter.

Last month, the Senate directed the Mr Kuta’s committee to interface with the public on the new scheme due to complaints that the FRSC stepped outside its mandate of protecting lives on Nigerian roads and is being motivated primarily by profit.

New number plates and licences on hold–FRSC

The Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) on Friday said that it has suspended the issuance of new number plates and driving licences.

This was contained in a statement signed by Corps Commander Neobong Akpabio.

In the statement, the FRSC said all the reports in the newspapers about the number plates came as a surprise to them.

“The attention of the FRSC has been drawn to conflicting news reports by some media, insinuating non-compliance with the National Assembly’s resolutions regarding the production of new driving licences and number plates,” the statement said.

“Since the resolution last year, the FRSC stopped the production of the new licences and number plates, pending the resolution of the contending issues by the appropriate authorities.

“The FRSC is therefore alarmed by reports creating an impression of non-compliance. For the avoidance of doubt, the Corps wishes to reiterate that as a creation of the National Assembly and an organisation that operates on the mantra of the rule of law, it will not do anything to undermine the authority of the National Assembly.”

The Senate had on Wednesday ordered the commission to stop issuing new vehicle number plates and drivers’ licence.

The lawmakers had condemned the indiscriminate fees charged by Corps on the new number plates and drivers’ licence.

Senate orders FRSC to stop issuing new number plates and drivers’ license

Senate on Wednesday ordered the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) to stop issuing new vehicle number plates and driver’s license.

The order follows the adoption of a motion on new number and driver’s sponsored by Senator Dahiru Kuta of Niger state and 19 others.

The Senators during the consideration of the motion on Wednesday described the new vehicle number plates issued by the commission as illegal noting that act that set up FRSC does not empower it to issue number plates.

“The commission was not established principally as a revenue generating agency for states or Federal Government,” Senator Kuta said while promoting the motion.

He said the new driver’s license which the FRSC launched in 2011 “is now issued for N6, 000 as against the N3, 000 while the new number plates have suddenly jumped from N5, 000 to an astronomical N15, 000,” he added.

Senator Smart Adeyemi from Kogi state said the cost of the new number plates is too exorbitant for motorists and is illegal.

He said that the “FRSC has abandoned its mandate, it was established to ensure safety on highways, but what the FRSC is trying to do now is to render other government agencies redundant.”

The Senate President, David Mark while ruling on the motion said the new number plates by FRSC was an imposition of additional burden on Nigerians.

“Let them not impose additional expenditure on the people and their primary objective was not to generate revenue,” he said.

Similarly, the House of Representatives had in last November asked the FRSC to stop the issuance of new vehicle number plates and driving licence.
The House had directed its Committee on FRSC to investigate the “rationale, necessity and circumstances” for the commission’s decision to replace the existing number plates and driving licence.

The FRSC had set a deadline of August 2012 for Nigerian drivers to obtain the new driving license and number plates which were last year commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan.

According to the FRSC the upgraded license and plate numbers are interlinked and will be connected to each driver, in order to help the FRSC track all road offences and monitor the driving behaviour of all vehicle owners.