By Ajayi Olawale
Contrary to reports, the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola has said there are no plans to introduce toll gates on federal roads across the country as widely reported.
The administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo had in 2004 scrapped toll gates across Nigeria.
Fashola’s Media aide, Hakeem Bello who spoke to TribuneOnline on Saturday in Abuja, however, debunked the report saying the Minister only said there were no laws against toll gates.
He said: “The minister has not announced that toll gates will be introduced. He was asked a question and he said there was no law against the introduction of toll gates. If that is going to happen it will be government policy.”
But the ministry, in a statement issued on Friday 4th October and signed by Stephen Kilebi, for the Deputy Director of Press also quoted Chairman Senate Committee on Works, Senator Mohammed Adamu Aliero, suggesting toll gate as an alternative source to fund major road projects.
The lawmaker spoke during an interactive session with the minister and the ministry’s officials at the National Assembly, Abuja.
“I believe if we concession some major roads and get the contractors to construct those roads to international standards, they can recoup their investments within a reasonable time by tolling the roads. This will gradually reduce government involvement in road construction and allow the ministry to focus on being the regulator in line with what is obtainable in many countries in the world,” Aliero reportedly stated.
However, an Abuja based lawyer, Kayode Oguntuase, said the move is a welcomed development if well managed.
According to him, if not mismanaged, the funds could be used to rehabilitate the roads.
“If there is a body to manage the funds from the toll gate, I think it is a welcome development. The funds can then be used to rehabilitate the roads. I don’t know why former President Olusegun Obasanjo stopped it but one of the reasons I think was because of mismanagement of the funds.”
He also added that: “Considering the economic situation, something like opinion poll should have been conducted to know what the ordinary Nigerian thinks about the development. The truth is that most of these people who make the laws do not ply the roads, they rather fly.
On her part, an IT expert, Hanna Taiwo, said this would also improve the country’s security status but noted that this may be scrapped if not properly managed.
“I like the idea, it will improve the security situation in Nigeria but it is all about maintenance. They will still scrap it, if it is not given to the right people, the funds will be mismanaged and they will see it as an avenue to English their pockets,” she said.