Buying or getting a car doesn’t mean you can go ahead and drive it on public roads – No! Driving in Nigeria requires having a number of car documents to protect you from running into problems with the police and traffic and road safety officials.
In Nigeria, drivers are usually accosted on a daily basis by road safety officials as well as policemen who conduct stop and search and ask to see their car documents.
This check has landed a good number of drivers in serious problems while many others prefer to bribe their way out of sticky situations.
Surprisingly, not all drivers have complete knowledge of the specific documents that the security agencies on the road expect them to have to be allowed to drive on public roads.
There are also cases of exploitation where drivers and car owners have their full documents; complete and updated, yet, still end up trying to induce the police officers on duty. Here is a list of car documents that you should have when driving on Nigerian roads:
A Valid Driver’s License
A valid driver’s license says a lot about your mental and physical preparedness to drive a car on Nigerian roads. It confers fitness on you on both counts. This is the first document that is recognised widely in the Nigerian constitution for you to be on the road as a driver.
Not having this document could land you in a serious problem with the Federal Road Safety Commission or other sister agencies that assist in road safety duties.
Certificate of Roadworthiness
This comes next to the driver’s license. It is important to have this certificate if you don’t want to be harassed by any road safety official. This certificate confirms the roadworthiness of your vehicle in terms of safety and all the criteria it is supposed to meet before being on the road.
The Vehicle Inspection Officers (VIO) are in charge of giving your vehicle a clean bill of health. Your vehicle has to meet their standards of roadworthiness before this certificate can be issued to you.
This is typically a document that clearly shows that your car is duly registered. In Nigeria, there are laws guiding how a vehicle comes into the country and how they should be documented. Vehicle registration is one of such laws that ensure that your vehicle complies with the regulations.
Motor Vehicle Insurance
This document may not necessarily get you into trouble every single day, but you never can tell about every other day. This could be the document that gets you embarrassed in front of that stern-looking officer looking for all the excuses to impound your vehicle after a brief altercation.
Nigerian law requires that you drive only insured cars on the roads. Your car insurance could be third-party or comprehensive, but what matters most, is the ability to present a certificate to this effect when asked by the relevant road safety officials.
Commercial Vehicle License
This license is issued to commercial vehicles to indicate that they are allowed to move freely and transact with passengers and customers around the country. This does not require any rigorous process.
All learners (anyone learning to drive) must be in the company of their driving instructors while driving. What this certificate primarily does is to prevent you from getting into an embarrassing situation with road safety officials.