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16 years after abolishment, Nigerian govt to return tollgates on highways: Why it matters

Fashola hits back on DISCOs, says consumers want better service

The federal government has announced plans to return tollgates to federal highways.

This was revealed by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, when he briefed State House correspondents after the Wednesday Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja.

Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, had 16 years ago (in 2003), abolished tollgates from federal highways.

But Fashola said the return of tollgates was part of the discussions during the ccmeeting.

He added that FEC also approved the repairs and rehabilitation of two road contracts that were awarded by the previous administration of President Goodluck Jonathan but without being cash-backed from N30.3 billion to N46 billion.

He said the new cost was in consonance with the reality of economic rates, market price indices for roads inputs such as cement, iron rods, diesel, petrol and lubricant and the changes in prices between 2010 and now.

“The first one is Ibadan-Lagere-Ilesha Bypass 22km and the contract was awarded in 2010, no budgetary funding and so the rate has become obsolete.

“The contractor wants new rate and that has necessitated the revision of the rate by N3.17 billion. The old contract of N6.7 billion has moved now to N9.8 billion.

“There is also Suleja-Lambata-Minna road. This is a 101km. It was awarded in two phases. The first phase was awarded in 2010 – 40km and then the second phase covering kilometre 40 to 101 was awarded in March 2015 but they used the 2010 rate.

“So, the contractor is now at a point where he said those rates were unsustainable; he can’t continue and we have recommended again that the reverse rate be considered and council approved them.

“It’s a revision by addition of N12.6 billion. So the contract price moved from N23.6 billion to N36.2 billion,” Fashola said.

On the move to return tollgates, Fashola said the move has gotten to an advanced stage, adding that “there is no reason why we can’t toll.”

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According to the minister, “There was a policy of government to abolish tollgates or dismantle toll plaza but there is no law that prohibits tolling in Nigeria today.”

While he hinted that the administration was considering a cashless payment through the introduction of electronic mode of payment, he sad there was need for government to acquire more land to expand the width of the tollgates as it proposed to have 10 lanes.

Already, there is apprehension among transporters and regular travelers that the tolling would lead to increased cost of transportation, as long distance trips could experience a percentage increase, since the transporters would invariably transfer the cost of tolling to the travelers.

There are also worries that the tolling could lead to delays, as there are likely to be build-ups at the points of tolling. This is even as debates have erupted, as to what manner of electronic tolling the government is likely to adopt, given that a good number of transporter are illiterates.

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