One of the major registered taxi operators in the Federal Capital Territory, Painted Abuja Taxis (PAT) Nigeria Limited, has expressed concerns over the purported plan by the Directorate of Road Traffic Services (DRTS) to issue special identification numbers to commercial drivers operating in the territory.
The FCT DRTS’ director, Wadata Bodinga, had on Sunday told newsmen that commercial vehicles without the number would not be allowed to operate within the territory.
The DRTS is popularly known in Abuja as Vehicle Inspection Office (VIO).
But reacting to the development on Sunday evening, the Chairman of PAT, Comrade Shehu Shugaba Yar’Adua, said his organisation was yet to be briefed on the VIO number scheme.
While saying that such policies are normally communicated to registered taxi operators by the FCT’s Transportation Sercretariat, Comrade Shehu said PAT has nothing against the VIO exercise if it will be cost-free to painted taxi drivers and will also allow them to ply everywhere including estates, hospitals, hotels, government offices, among other restricted areas.
The outspoken PAT boss said commercial drivers have always cooperated with FCT authorities, including VIO in various policies rolled out to boost security in the nation’s capital territory.
He, however, warned that the organisation would not fold its hands and allow its members to be extorted under any guise.
His words: “To the best of our knowledge, the transportation secretariat has not called to inform us (about the VIO identification number). We are answerable to the transportation secretariat and any time they tell us about it, we will make our own input.
“We have our tag numbers that are used in identifying and tracking our members, but if they want to do their own, it should be at no cost to drivers, and also with condition that after this (exercise) they (taxis) are free to enter anywhere.
“Not that when they now register for it, you still go ahead to restrict them from certain areas like estates, hotels, hospitals and others.
“It is not about just collecting money from them under the guise of identification numbers and then be pursuing and restricting them from certain areas. If it is like that, then we will have no option that to resist the scheme.”
Speaking further, Shehu called on the FCT’s authorities to ensure more conducive environment for registered taxis and tackle the problem of unregistered taxis (kabukabu) that are often used by criminals to perpetrate all forms of crimes in Abuja.
Recall that PAT, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), among others, are the registered and licensed taxi operators in FCT.