Due to the cash constraint that has gripped the nation as a result of the Central Bank of Nigeria’s (CBN) Naira redesign policy, the Lagos State Government has started releasing impounded vehicles to their owners for free.
It may be noted that three weeks ago, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu announced palliative measures to lessen the impact of the Naira redesign policy, which has caused a severe cash shortage in Nigeria.
The state government opted to release vehicles that were held for minor traffic infractions to their owners and waive the fines as part of an attempt to scale up the palliative gesture.
Since last Saturday, the automobiles have been released to their owners; the process is still underway.
Lagos Commissioner for Transportation, Dr. Frederic Oladeinde, in an interview on Tuesday said the governor had extended the palliative measures by ensuring that vehicles impounded for minor traffic offences were returned to their owners with the fines waved.
According to Oladeinde, “when you look at what the governor proposed, especially during the cash crunch period, we have reduced public transport fare by 50%. So when you go on our BRTs and all the Lagos state funded public transport, including Lag Ride, we have reduced the fare by 50% just to alleviate the suffering of our people.
“Apart from that, moving away from transport, we have opened up food banks in certain areas. So we’re beginning to give out palliative just to ensure that people get through this cash crunch period.
“We’re happy that APC has won at the national level. And we are beginning to see some of these policies being reversed. So we’re hoping that in a short time, life would return back to normal but in terms of public transport, I think we’ve reduced fare by 50%.”
Oladeinde added that “there are some people that committed offences during that period and we understand the fact that money wasn’t easy to come by. Looking at the governor’s magnanimity, the governor has deemed it fit to ensure that people who committed crimes within that period and wanted to pay or couldn’t pay as a result of the shortage of cash, they should come and pick up their cars and he has waved the fines.
“Mind you, that does not include major crimes committed. These are just minor traffic offences that have been committed in Lagos and this is showing empathy and trying to understand that look, we understand how difficult it has been and it is not a reason for us to stop you from making ends meet and so hence the governor’s magnanimity.”
The commissioner stated that “all those who have committed crime within that period should come and pick up their cars, that doesn’t mean people should continue to offend and so right now, what we are doing is to caution them not to commit the offence again.
“After the cash crunch is over we arrest, What we are doing right now educating people, like correcting them to just making sure that they don’t commit an offence again, but obviously if you commit a major crime, the law has to take his course.”
Meanwhile, Oladeinde said transportation would continue to be the backbone of the state’s economy, saying that when one looked at the policies the government is implementing, they have helped to reposition the transportation system.
He said the government had continued to test-run the Blue Line Rail system and that full operation of the rail system would kick off in April as promised by the governor.
“We are opening up the whole public transport arena so that people can have options. So we’re going to continue to encourage private sector to bring in more profit.
“We’re trying to move away from diesel which has been very expensive, and has made public transportation expensive. So we are now piloting some diesel, some CAG buses, and over time, we already have investors who want to bring in these buses and that will crash the cost of public transportation. So we’re doing that with LAMATA,” he said.