The Federal Government has approved the introduction of a new driver’s licence that will have a five-year expiry period. The new licence will run side by side with the present one which has a three-year expiry date. Mr. Boboye Oyeyemi, the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) boss, disclosed that the decision on the new licence was taken at the 13th meeting of the Joint Tax Board which held recently in Kano.
We welcome the new five-year licence, even though it will cost a little more money to obtain. The licence, according to Oyeyemi, will cost N10,000 while the current three-year licence will be obtained at N6,000. This amounts to N2,000 per year for both categories of licences. The extension of the expiry date of the new licence is advantageous, considering the difficulties that Nigerians go through to obtain or renew the vital document. This should mollify those who may not feel too comfortable with the higher price of the new licence.
This initiative is apparently in furtherance of government’s efforts to shore up and diversify its revenue base, considering the fact that the decision on it was taken at a meeting of the Joint Tax Board. Taxes and such related charges remain a veritable source of dependable revenue for governments all over the world.
Whatever the considerations that informed this initiative, however, one thing that is of utmost importance is for the FRSC to ensure that the inconveniences that are associated with the present licensing regime are eliminated forthwith.
For too long, the people have experienced difficulties during attempts to obtain drivers’ licences. Apart from having to go back and forth to the licensing offices, the process, when it eventually commences, virtually takes a whole day, as applicants are made to move from desk to desk, and from one office to another.
The problems associated with the procurement of driver’s licence has fuelled a flourishing trade in fake licences. Drivers’ licences rackets, designed to defraud desperate, frustrated or gullible applicants, are flourishing as a result of the gaps in the current licensing process.
We believe that it is possible to improve the processes for the procurement of drivers’ licences. The system needs to be made more efficient and transparent. The unit of the FRSC designated for the licensing of drivers should be a one-stop office where the entire licensing process can be completed expeditiously.
With modern technology, this should not be impossible. The gap between what the licensing administrators say and what applicants for the licences experience in their offices, is currently too wide. It should be closed. All shortcomings in the licensing process should be redressed. The bottlenecks in the system should be identified and eliminated.
Even though the new driver’s licence will now last for five years, we also expect that the increase in its cost will lead to greater efficiency in the system.
We urge the FRSC authorities to ensure that the new addition to the licensing process is available throughout the country. We are not unmindful of the present effort to make the driver’s licence a vital security document and a repository of critical national data.
One way to convince the holders of the document and citizens in general of government’s determination to succeed in this drive is to ensure that the licensing process becomes a more pleasant experience for applicants.