Authorities of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, have introduced a new license for ride-hailing drivers and will start enforcing compliance from the 1st of October, 2021. According to the FCT’s Directorate of Road Traffic Service (DRTS), the aim of this regulation is to harness innovative technology and digital solution to regulate and manage public transportation to achieve efficiency, professionalism and sanity in the sector.
With the new regulation, drivers operating in Abuja are mandated to upgrade their regular drivers’ licence to a hybrid licence specific to e-hailing drivers only. Along with the upgraded hybrid driver’s licence, Uber and Bolt drivers are also required to obtain a Driver’s Certificate Card (DCC) which qualifies them to operate taxi-hailing services in the FCT. To qualify for the licence upgrade and DCC, prospective riders will be required to provide evidence of membership of an app-based association in the Federal Capital Territory with a verifiable form of identification. They will also be required to produce a valid NIN and a valid driver’s license. Voluntary registration of the DCC will commence on October 1 2021 and run through December 31, 2021. During this period, registration will be free, after which drivers will be required to pay. According to the Directorate of Road Traffic Service (DRTS), enforcement of the regulation will commence on January 1, 2022.
The new regulation follows a series of crackdowns aimed at ride-hailing drivers in the city and a subsequent uproar. In June, drivers on ride-hailing platforms Uber and Bolt were asked to pay taxes by the Municipal Area Council (AMAC) of Abuja. Following a notice sent to ride-hailing companies Uber and Bolt, the council started going after the drivers, prompting an outcry through the National Union of Professional App-based Transport Workers (NUPA-BTW). The chairman of the National Union of Professional App-based Transport Workers (NUPA-BTW), Comrade Ibrahim Ayoade, condemned the action of the Municipal Area Council (AMAC) of Abuja, saying that the attempt by the council to tax drivers amounts to double taxation, as they already pay 25 percent commission to the e-hailing companies which included taxes. It now seems that the authorities in the FCT saw reason with the drivers’ union and is now playing down on its initial tax extraction stand to a more regulatory one.
The President of the National Union of Professional App-based Transport Workers (NUPA-BTW), Comrade Ibrahim Ayoade described the latest e-hailing regulation as being more impactful than the one adopted by the Lagos state government. This, according to him, is because it saw the need for the sector to be unionised, and recognised the union in its provisions. Also, he gave credit to the regulation for increasing the security of drivers. “With this regulation, we can demand the profile of riders through our data bank by the government to link it with police for assistance during security challenges on the road,” he said. Additionally, Comrade Ayoade praised the Municipal Area Council (AMAC) of Abuja for requiring just two papers from the drivers –the DCC Drivers certificate card, and the upgraded hybrid vehicle license, unlike the regulation by the Lagos State government which required about six extra papers apart from the normal vehicle licence papers.
The new regulation is one of several schemes by Abuja’s Directorate of Road Traffic Service (DRTS) to regulate road activities more efficiently in the state. Other schemes released by the directorate include the Taxi Operators Licence Scheme Registration and the Special Trade Licence Regulation Scheme for auto and spare parts dealers. There’s also the Delivery Service Scheme for Dispatch riders which mandates dispatch riders to register for a special number plate.
With the new regulation, the directorate expects the issues of regulating app-based drivers to be addressed more effectively.