THE Federal Road Safety Corps and the Lagos State Government are waging ‘war’ against motorists. Apart from habitual stoppages, fines and multiple levies imposed, its agents have recently gone after vehicles with faded number plates. Following in the footsteps of the FRSC, the LASG has directed law enforcement agencies to apprehend motorists with defective vehicle registration number plates, including fading ones. The last is contentious and insensitive.
While it is in order to compel the use of proper plates, and replacement of defective or damaged ones, it is sheer tyranny to punish motorists for fading number plates arising from their poor quality. It was the government authorities that issued sub-standard number plates that could not withstand the weather conditions!
So, it is the government that provided inferior products that should bear the cost of their replacement, not the victim-buyer. FRSC and LASG are punishing motorists for their own incompetence and deception. Motorists easily recall that in the last licence plates renewal, both claimed that the new plates were durable, and had security features. These turned out to be largely false.
Nigeria’s national and sub-national governments are notorious for perpetually tormenting the citizenry. This will not be the first time the government would be ordering motorists to replace washed-off number plates issued by the same government and forcing them to pay exorbitant fees for their replacement.
Coming back as LASG is doing, to tag those same licence plates it gave out at a fee as an ‘unlawful act’ which violates the Lagos State’s Transport Reform Law (2018), does gross violence to the social contract. The government is liable for the defects in its own product, not the buyer. There is a difference between damage caused by improper handling or damage while in use, and defects in quality.
As usual, like the FRSC, the state government is flying the kite of security, the same scaremongering they employ each time they replace licence plates. Permanent Secretary of the Lagos State Ministry of Transportation, Hafiz Toriola, said it was an ‘anomaly’ for motorists to use faded number plates or those damaged, as it violates the law, “especially with the present security challenges facing the country.”
After making low-quality goods and forcing them on motorists, it is unjust, oppressive, and extortionate to criminalise their possession.
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The two agencies should stop the tyrannous harassment over fading plates immediately. Instead, the 36 states and FCT licensing authorities should offer incentives in the form of rock-bottom replacement fees for motorists with faded number plates.
Seeking as the LASG did to blame washing with soap for the fading plates is disingenuous. The reality is that the quality of many of the plates cannot withstand the sunny, dry weather. Licence plates are washed alongside the entire vehicle, and the body paint remains durable and resilient; it is only the government’s low-quality plate that fades.
Security operatives must desist from harassing motorists with fading number plates and give them time to replace the substandard product.
Government exists to serve the people, not to outwit, cheat and oppress them. Sadly, when these draconian measures are being taken, state and federal lawmakers ignore the plight of voters instead of rising to their defence.
Vehicle manufacturers recall sold vehicles when defects are detected and replace them at their own cost. Toyota recalled 168,000 units of its Tundra model this year; Chrysler recalled 44,708 Wagoneer units, and Subaru, 35,357 units of the Crosstrek and Impreza brands.
Nigerians should vigorously resist this oppression by every lawful means. Motorists should be given enough time to replace faded plates at highly subsidised rates. Going forward, the authorities must henceforth provide a warranty alongside each plate issued. They and the manufacturer must necessarily bear the full cost of replacement if it fades within the warranty period, subject to adherence to proper usage and maintenance by the motorist.
Nigerians should stop tolerating tyranny and extortion from governments they elected to serve them. Victims, CSOs and pressure groups should mount protests, petition state and federal lawmakers, and file law suits if the FRSC and the LASG insist on the extortionist harassment.
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