The Federal Government has directed “full action” against unscrupulous driving school operators and other saboteurs of the nation’s driver licensing system.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, announced this in Abuja on Tuesday.
Mustapha spoke at the 4th National Workshop for Driving School Operators in the North-Central, organized by the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the series of workshops are part of efforts by the FRSC to sanitise the process of drivers’ training and licensing in the country.
The move, according to the FRSC Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi, follows a recent media report that the process has been “grossly compromised by driving school operators” and other actors.
Mustapha said the government was aware that some operators were deliberately sabotaging its Driving School Standardisation Programme (DSSP), implemented by the FRSC.
The operators, according to him, do this mostly by “breaching the DSSP portal” to help their clients to bypass the due process of acquiring driver’s licence.
Represented by Mr Adekunle Olusegun, the Permanent Secretary, General Services department of his office, Mustapha said the FRSC had been mandated to punish those already identified to deter potential offenders.
“Government is closely watching the execution of the DSSP and would appreciate its expansion to ensure that only those who are qualified to drive on Nigerian roads do so.
“Let me emphasise here that those who make use of the roads must continually be properly trained and certified in order not to lose focus and be guilty of gross negligence in crucial areas of national development,” he said.
Mustapha, whose office supervises the FRSC, said the workshop could not have come at a better time than now that the government was concerned about driver education, training and certification.
The SGF noted that government was appreciative of “diligent and law-abiding” operators, and would continue to support all policies and programmes aimed at making the nation’s roads safer.
He urged operators to join forces to acquire driving ranges, a key requirement for the licensing of driving schools by the FRSC.
Mustapha amplified the call by the FRSC on state governments to set up model driving schools to guide the private sector players, and also to support the Corps.
In a keynote address, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola, expressed concern over the current quality of driver training in the country.
Fashola based his worry on “the observed level of insanity displayed by drivers on our highways nowadays, in spite of the DSSP”.
“There is no doubt that there is a wide gap between FRSC efforts and the return the nation is getting to it in respect of driving school activities.
“For instance, some driving schools have been found to have developed the habit of using the highways as driving ranges even when the requirements and procedure for driver training are explicitly provided for by the FRSC,” he said.
The minister said his ministry was collaborating with the FRSC to rid the nation’s highways of all plagues, including unlawful access by driving school operators.
He lauded the Corps for organising the workshop to ensure proper regulation of the driving schools, urging other stakeholders to do their part.
Chairman of the FRSC Governing Board, Malam Bukhari Bello, said the board was aware of the recent challenges bedevilling the DSSP.
Bello said he was happy that the Corps was already taking steps, including organisation of the workshops, to address the challenges.
He assured the Corps of the board’s support to ensure that the programme was effectively implemented, in addition to other inititiatives, for an enduring road safety in the nation.
The Corps Marshal of the FRSC said the workshop was organised to re-evaluate the performance of the DSSP and chart the way forward.
Oyeyemi said the DSSP, which came into force in 2006, was facing a number of challenges including “relentless hacking into the DSSP portal to gain unmerited advantage for driving school clients”.
He said operators were also not adhering to the rules of engagement, and outright deceit by state committees of driving school registration leading to “rogue approval of non-existent/sub-standard driving schools”.
Another setback, he said, is the general non-cooperative attitude of driving school operators to be properly organised for better operation and regulation in order to ensure the maintenance of best practice.
He said the FRSC had so far suspended the licences of 124 driving schools in the country due to compliance breaches.
“The workshop will take a holistic approach to the DSSP value network and proffer comprehensive and enduring strategy to rejuvenate it roward ensuring effective functioning of the programme.
“This will enhance road safety and also continue to offer assistance and guidance to driving school operators to channel them toward innovation and efficient investments.
“It equally seeks to continually offer the highest safety and security standards and build a strong safety culture crucial to driving school operations,” the FRSC boss said.(NAN)