By Yemi Adeleye
The Lagos State House of Assembly, on Thursday, moved to penalise indiscriminate abandonment of vehicles on highways, streets or near private premises.
This followed the adoption of the report of the House Committee on Transportation on a Bill for a Law to Amend the Lagos State Transport Sector Reform Law 2018.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports the Mr Adedamola Kasunmu (APC-Ikeja II) presented the report on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Mojeed Fatai, who was absent at plenary.
Kasunmu said the amendment would further strengthen the law by removing the overlapping functions between Lagos State Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA) and Lagos Bus Service Limited (LBSL).
The bill created a new section 98, which read: “Where a motor vehicle is stationary or abandoned on a highway or street or near private premises, any officer of the authority may cause the vehicle to be removed to a designated vehicle park if:
“The officer has reasonable grounds for believing that the location of the vehicle is in contravention of the provisions of a law or regulation relating to the parking of vehicles.
“Where the vehicle was found not to have been abandoned but left on the highway for an unreasonably long time, the owner shall bear the cost of towing the vehicle to a designated vehicle park and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of N50,000 or any non-custodial sentence.
“The owner or occupier of the premises adjoining the highway or private premises where the vehicle is stationary or abandoned shall lodge a report of such vehicle to the nearest office of the authority or nearest police station.
“Also, where the owner or occupier of such premises fails to report within 72 hours, after the expiration of the allowed days, he or she commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N25, 000.
“Where the owner of an abandoned or removed vehicle fails upon notification by the authority to claim the vehicle for a period of three months, the ministry shall publish a notice of its intention to dispose the vehicle.
” That such notice will be in the state Official Gazette and one national newspaper, and at the end of one calendar month from the date of such publication, the ministry may dispose of the vehicle.”
The bill also created a new section 90 which reads “Notwithstanding any provision in this law, the Ministry shall exercise the power to dispose abandoned or unclaimed vehicles.’’
During debate, Mr Moshood Oshun (APC-Lagos Mainland II) who raised a question on how to determine an abandoned or stationary vehicle, said a specific time or days should be stated before punitive action could be taken.
According to him, a vehicle parked on the streets due to mechanical fault or because the owner travelled cannot be said to have been abandoned.
Corroborating Oshun, Mr Abiodun Tobun (APC-Epe I) said that time limit should be expressly stated before anyone could be said to have contravened the law.
In his response to Oshun, the Speaker of the House, Mr Mudashiru Obasa, said that there was no justification for abandoning a vehicle on the road, thereby hindering other road users.
Obasa said that residents had the responsibility to inform the authority of any stationary or abandoned vehicles on the highways or streets.
The House also took a report of its Committee on Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2018 presented Mr Setonji David (APC-Badagry II).
The lawmakers, after debate, adopted the committee report as the resolution of the house.