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More stolen vehicles can be recovered in Nigeria if states collaborate – Kilanko

LAPE KILANKO, general manager, Motor Vehicle Administration Agency (MVAA), Lagos State, has been in the state’s civil service for 22years. She spoke with CALEB OJEWALE, on the agency’s strides in contributing to internally generated revenue, and a recently re-introduced Temporary Vehicle Tag for every vehicle passing through Lagos. Excerpts:

Can you give us an insight into what the numbers look like in terms of vehicle registration in Lagos state in the last 5 years?

It has been increasing so far, and this year, we expect new registrations to be over 400,000. Of course, those that will renew will be over that number, more and above that number. I can’t give you the exact number because it keeps increasing and I don’t want to over-quote or under-quote.

IGR is one of the strong points of Lagos state, what has this agency’s contribution been?

Last year our revenue target was about N8.5billion and this year it is to be N11billion.

Did last year exceed your projections?

Because of COVID we couldn’t meet the original target. It was really more than that but you know the budget was readjusted. So our target was reduced to N8.5 billion and we were able to make about 85% of it.

Can you speak to some of the areas you are looking to innovate in order to bolster revenues by your agency?

There is what we call Temporary Vehicle Tag. It was re-launched early this year, and this has to do with vehicles coming into Lagos or passing through Lagos. There is a law in the transport section, which says that, “no vehicle must ply the road without any form of identification on it”. And we know the purpose of having identification on an item, which is so you can pin that particular item to an individual.

However, when a vehicle is newly acquired, and you want to ply the road, in order to meet that law, we have devised a product called temporary vehicle tag. It is a tag that you can use on your vehicle before you do proper registration. And we’re taking it right from the points of entry into Lagos; it could be the port, it could be the border. But for now we’re doing the port.

As long as you’re passing through Lagos, you must get that tag, and it has the name of the importer on it and the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This ensures whenever history of that vehicle is being traced, it can be done right to the importer, and which is a plus considering security issues we’re having in the country. Therefore, because we are re-launching this service, which was not done last year, it will be another source of revenue. Of course, all the other products are still there. We’ll look at where we close leakages, we’ll look at automations which will increase our service, delivery, brings about transparency and all that. When you automate, so many people can do so many things without really coming to your office. And of course, it will increase your efficiency. All these things will bring about increase in revenue that we are after. Then we also have the regular vehicle registration services. I should also state it is good for people to find out if the number plate they are given is genuine or fake one.

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Are you considering automation for vehicle registration anytime soon, perhaps an online system?

Last year we did online registrations for renewal, and we have a private-public partnership on that. We are still working on a system where you can renew on your own from the comfort of your home or office. However, in vehicle documentation, there are certain things you cannot do without coming over to the station. It can’t be total automation. There are certain things that you still have to come over and do.

Can you speak to some of the other challenges you’ve noticed in the administration of vehicle registration in Lagos and more importantly, how do you think we can solve them?

An example is change of ownership. We don’t have access to other states and we have people from other states requesting that they want to buy our own number plates in Lagos state. They have bought a vehicle and there’s need to change the ownership. Because the first registration is not from Lagos State, we don’t have access to verify the history of that vehicle.

Therefore, when they come to Lagos for change of ownership, we can’t do it, at least until they have done the change of ownership in that other state. Then they can now come and do their registration with us. This is one of the things states need to come together to fix. To some extent, Lagos can still do some of those registrations because our consultant covers about 22 states, and information pertaining to any of those states can be accessed for ownership verification. If more states can come into this type of net, then things like change of ownership will be much more easier.

This is more important now considering not many people can buy new vehicles. It is more of Nigerian used vehicles that we are having, and this will assist us in the process of change of ownership. In the process of doing this, we have discovered and recovered vehicles that are stolen. Because in doing change of ownership, we call the first owner: have you sold your vehicle to this person? They say, which vehicle? The vehicle that was stolen 3 years ago!

We can recover more stolen vehicles if we get more collaborations with more states and we’re connected, then we will be able to do more in that area.

What can the average owner do to make sure it is impossible for someone else to register a stolen vehicle?

What you should do is first report to the police. You now write to us giving the particulars of your vehicle and what we will do is to flag it so that if anybody comes here to change ownership, we can now say, no, this vehicle is stolen.

There are things people take granted, which could make recovery of stolen vehicles difficult too. Like when you change the colour of your car, you are supposed to notify us that the colour of your car is no more blue, it is red. Because when we are looking for stolen vehicle, we look for a blue car, for instance, not red. To change the colour of your car, in some countries you must take permission, because the record they have is now different. We also have change of engines people do and not notify us. We just appeal to people that things concerning vehicle identification should not be taken for granted. Every little detail is very important because you don’t know when it will come handy any day.

Often time, one sees a car with California, Texas number plate… [cuts in]

It is not allowed. They are not supposed to ply the road with that kind of number. If that California numbered car should commit an offence, how will you trace the owner?

Over the years people have had this belief that when you import a car, you’re allowed to use it for a limited period until registration

No. That’s a wrong perception. If you’re not ready to do proper registration, then do this (temporary registration) for one month. Then renewable for another one month.

What’s the cost for getting this temporary registration?

N3,000.

If a person brings in a car through Lagos ports, for use in Kano for instance, will other states reckon with this temporary vehicle registration from Lagos?

It is not Lagos per se; just that we are taking the lead to say this is what we want. I referenced the national transport law earlier, forbidding driving vehicles without registration. And because you have not done the permanent registration, that serves as an identification on that vehicle for you.

If one does it and they stop him in Okene, on his way to Abuja where he intends to register, does this cover him?

This should cover him because that is his form of temporary registration. You know, other states may not be too willing to start. But for this, we have told the Commissioner of Police, that this is starting and we are all doing it together, which I guess they should be able to pass to other states. What we are doing, other states also have that right to do it, because it is a national law. And there are so many things that people are not doing. You see even within Lagos, you see a lot of cars being driven without any form of identity.

On a government to government basis, what is going to be the level of engagement to ensure that other states will embrace this, so that end users from Lagos, for instance, will not be harassed on the road or possibly even extorted that oh, ‘we don’t know what you’re holding’.

When they see Lagos doing it, other states will wake up and say this is good. Our road safety is even aware of it and can use its federal might to get other states to buy into it. We are all working for the good of everybody. If Lagos is doing it and other states emulate it, the security issues will be improved. Of course, you know Lagos State is always taking the lead in so many things. Recently, people from Kwara state came and were asking us what we were doing and how we can collaborate. With the TVT that we’re starting now, the ripple effect will be felt.

What should be the standard cost of either registering a new vehicle or renewal in Lagos State?

It depends on capacity of the car, it’s the capacity that determines some costs. But the number plate has a fixed price on that.

What’s the fixed cost on the number plate?

That costs N12,500 apart from other documents such as going to our sister agency for road worthiness.

People often mention different amounts as cost of car registration in Lagos, why is this?

If you come to the station, you’ll get a fee. If you’re going through intermediary, you’ll get a different fee because the intermediary is going to add his own cost to it. Therefore, you can’t get the same cost. If someone is supposed to do the running around for you, for their efforts they add some amount. There are some people we call client representatives who do this, and are going to add their own cost, which you don’t have power over.

Is it possible to do car registration without going through intermediaries?

That is why you have our stations. You can go inside the station and for our services we have over 112 stations.3

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