The Federal Government yesterday announced plans to return toll gates on federal highways across the country.
The administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo had in 2004 scrapped toll gates across Nigeria.
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, unveiled the plan to reintroduce toll gates while briefing State House Correspondents after the cabinet meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said the design of the toll plazas had been concluded.
Let me just clarify this impression about toll gates. There is no reason why we cannot toll, there is no reason. There was a policy of government to abolish tolls or as it were, dismantle toll plazas but there is no law that prohibits tolling in Nigeria today.
We expect to return toll plazas, we have concluded their designs of what they will look like, what material they will be rebuilt with, what new considerations must go into them.
What we are looking out now and trying to conclude is how the bank end runs. And that is important because we want to limit significantly if not totally eliminate cash at the plazas while ensuring that electronic devices that are being used do not impede rapid movement.
We are also now faced with the need to acquire more land to establish the width of the toll plazas because I believe we are looking at 10-lane plazas so that there can be more outlets. So, we need to acquire more land, that is the work that is currently being done now.
But let me also say that the expectation that collection of tolls will then produce the replacement cost of the road is perhaps not accurate because the traffic toll count that we have done on major highways does not suggest that there is enough vehicular traffic across all roads.
Reacting, the Director of Information, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi State, Dr Andee Iheme, said toll gates are all over the world, described the plan as good “If the federal government is going to make it automated.
“The best thing to do, if the government must do it, is that let them outsource it to commercial outfit; if it is run by a commercial outfit they won’t be cheated because they will find a way of doing it. But if it is government running the business, it will be business as usually, they will cheat us.”
Also, the Director of Mic – Ray Progressive School, Lokoja , Michael Sule Ojonuwa, said bringing toil gate back is not a bad idea “if there will be a better channel of collecting the money in a way that the money will not go to individual pockets.
Usman-Doko Abdullahi, a business man in Niger State, described the plan as a welcome development “in as much as the funds will be used judiciously.”