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Stakeholders express feelings Over Plans to Reintroduce Tolls on Federal Roads

Fashola

Fashola

Stakeholders in some states in Nigeria have expressed different opinions over plans by the Federal Government’s to reintroduce toll gates on Federal Highways in Nigeria.

 
They spoke in a separate interviews in Benin, Calabar and Yenagoa.
 
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, told members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) that Government would reintroduce tolling on the nation’s highways.
 
He also told the MAN members, on a courtesy visit to him in Abuja that government intended to raise the much needed funds from such tolls to maintain road projects completed by the government.
 
The Minister also revealed that the government would spend N100bn to be raised from the issuance of the SUKUK bond for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of 25 arterial roads.
 
Fashola said that the sum of N16.7bn would be allocated for each geo-political zone across the country.
 
He said that some of the prioritised road projects included the dualisation of Ibadan-Ilorin road, Suleja-Minna road and Kano-Maiduguri road and Lokoja-Benin road.
 
The minister said that, the Enugu- Port-Harcourt Expressway would be part of the road rehabilitation process including the construction of the Kaduna Eastern Bypass.
 
But a respondent, Mr Neville Obaghedo, said in Benin that he would expect all citizens of Nigeria to regard the development with ill feelings. 
 
According to him, tolling on national highways will encourage corruption in the country.
 
He said that toll gates, controlled by federal government existed before they were later it privatised before President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration eventually authorised their removal. 
 
He also wondered whether the same people that administered toll gates in the past would not be in the forefront of administering the same process now.
 
Obaghedo said: “Is it not the same people that were in charge of the fund and the roads were never repaired that will control the funds?
 
“What magic will Mr Babatunde Fashola employ without introducing corruption? Why should the government believe that it is only through reintroducing tolling system that funds can be raised to complete road projects?
 
“We should not deceive ourselves that reintroducing tolling system will raise funds or provide employment. For me, it will only encourage corruption in our society.
 
He also advised government to explore other ways of raising fund other than resort to former tolling system.
 
A tanker driver, Suleiman Danjuma, said that it was obvious that government is confused and would be encouraging corruption. 
 
“There were toll gates before they were removed, people in charge then, some of them were using the funds realised to enrich their pockets.  
 
“The government should wake up to their responsibility to provide good roads by mapping out other ways to generate funds; not by tolling system that will enrich few individuals,” Danjuma said.
 
Danjuma’s views were shared by some of the respondents and motorists from Calabar who also expressed mix reactions over plans to reintroduction of tollgates on Federal Highways in Nigeria.
 
According to Mr Ezekiel Ojong, an inter-state transporter, returning tollgates to federal highways in Nigeria by the government will encourage further hardship that motorists experience on the roads.
 
He also alleged that various agencies of government would use the opportunity to for corruption.
 
“I do not support the idea because we suffer a lot on the roads. We pay money to all manners of people, especially men in uniform on the roads.The Police collect money; Road Safety; Road Transport Workers and so many others; so to add another payment, will be too much.Many of us do not own these vehicles, we have to render accounts to the owners and feed our families,” he said.
A commuter, Mr Matthias Umoren also described the planned reintroduction of tollgates by the government as uncalled for, adding that, the effect of recession was still biting hard.
 
“The government should try to move forward rather than backward. They should look elsewhere to fund roads maintenance instead of inflicting more hardships on the people,” he said.
Another commuter, Mrs Mabel Udoh, however, advised the government to ensure prudent management of the funds expected to be generated from the tolls.
 
“I am not against introducing tolls on the roads provided the monies are used for the purpose of maintaining the roads. If the present administration feels that is the only way they can maintain the roads, so be it,” she said.
The Engineer in-charge of Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA) in Cross River, Bamidele Fasouranti, said the planned tollgate would be introduced on roads already completed by the government.
 
He said that the idea was to generate the needed funds for proper maintenance of the road.
 
Stakeholders from Bayelsa also said the decision by the federal government to re-introduce tolls on highways should be commended rather than condemned.
 
The stakeholders, who gave their views in separate interviews in Yenagoa, said the decision was a welcome development to the nation’s road users.
 
According to Mr Waibode Francis, Chairman, National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Azikoro branch of Ekeki Park, the policy would not only improve standards but go a long way to checkmate security.
 
Francis, who attributed the spate of insecurity on the highways to absence of tolls, decried the porous nature of the road in the country.
 
“When you travel, you will notice that the absence of tolls makes our road so porous and open for all sorts of crimes like robbery and kidnapping.
 
“Well, the idea to reintroduce the toll gates is okay because it will help in reducing crime and generally improve security on the roads,” Francis said.
 
Mr Chikere Dozie, a transport operator, who also commended the plans to reintroduce tolls on federal highways, suggested that such rods should properly fixed before the toll policy began.
 
Dozie, who described roads as important to national development, noted that good roads could boost commercial activities and reduce loss of goods and services resulting from bad roads.
 
“Yes, we, transporters support the idea of tolling policy because the road will be secured as security personnel will be positioned at the checkpoints.The federal government said the idea was a way to improve maintenance of roads in Nigeria; I want them to match words with action because the roads are bad.I will continue to pray that the money that will be generating from the toll gates will be used well for the betterment of the people,” he said.
 
Mr John Odeh, a Trader, who also said that the introduction of tolls was good, expressed the hope that it would help in safeguarding the roads.