The Federal Government is considering to re-introduce toll gates on some roads and bridges across the country.
The Minister of Works, Mike Onolememen, stated this in Abuja yesterday in a speech at a one-day forum on roads and bridges. Onolememen, who was represented by the Minister of State for Works, Ambassador Bashir Yuguda, said some of the roads and bridges marked for tolling in the first phase of the programme include the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway and a new bridge across River Niger at Asaba-Apakun.
He said the reintroduction of tolling would enable government to grow the economy, bring services to the communities and ensure safety of road-users. ‘Currently, the Federal Government does not have enough resources to keep the roads and bridges on good state at all the times, as a result, it is attracting additional investment by increasing the role of the private sector in the design, construction, management, maintenance and upgrading of the federal roads and bridges network through Public-Private Partnership (PPPs). Toll revenue will make it possible,’ he noted.
‘Recall that most of the federal roads across the country were in the past subjected to tolling, which were at the time collected by the authorities of the then Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. Unfortunately, the same tollgates were later dismantled by former President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo-led civilian administration following reported cases of massive corruption in the system’. The minister also stated that government is now trying to correct this past mistake, hence it has begun series of consultations, including the stakeholders’ forum. He said after the wider society has submitted its reports on the workability of the policy, government will come up with a final document, which shall be sent to the Federal Executive Council for approval and the President will assent to it. According to the minister, when the policy is fully operational, key benefits of the tolling policy will include, improving the quality and safety of Nigerians, as there will be thousands of kilometers of world-class roads added to the road network, encouraging international best practices coupled with affordability for road-users and provision of incentives for further private investments. He said that concessionaires will change the tolls and they will be responsible for the building and maintenance of the roads, even as government will give preference to tolling by established, experienced and reputable private firms. On when the concessionaire will start charging toll, the minister stressed that it may only be levied once a road is completed and integrated with the road network. Earlier in a welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Works, Gr. A. K. Muhammed, called on participants to ensure a fruitful deliberation and come up with robust recommendations.