Imminent return of tollgates

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The Minister of Works, Mike Onolomemen, has dropped hints that the tollgates on our highways which were demolished some years ago would soon return. The reason for the return to the tollgate era, according to the minister, is to generate funds to maintain the roads so that they do not degenerate again to the sorry state that they are in at present.

The Lagos-Ibadan expressway may be the pilot project for the scheme as the minister has said that tollgates would be introduced on the road as soon as the ongoing reconstruction and expansion works are completed. We sympathise with Onolemenmon and the government of Nigeria on this issue. The minister’s new song on tollgates is indicative of the unfortunate policy flip flops that our governments are given to. With the plan to reintroduce the tollgates not too long after they were scrapped, the government of the day has acknowledged the fact that the decision to do away with the tollgates in the first place was not well thought out.

The reasons which Onolemenman are adducing for the reintroduction of the tollgates are as valid today as they were when the tollgates came into being in Nigeria. They are supposed to generate funds for the maintenance of the highways. If the government of Olusegun Obasanjo scrapped them because they were not living up to that expectation, that was unfortunate. But the point remains that demolishing the toll plazas and abolishing toll collection was not the right response to whatever problem the government was having at that time.

If the tollgates were not yielding the required revenue, what government ought to have done was to put in place an arrangement that would work. Rather than do that, government fitfully chose to demolish the toll plazas with millions of Naira. Now that government has decided to return the tollgates, new structures will be constructed, this time with millions, if not billions of Naira. This is most wasteful. Indeed, it appears as if our governments are hooked to wasteful ventures.

Onolemenmen was, for instance, reported to have said that government would first repair the Lagos-Ibadan highway within a period of eight weeks before awarding contracts for its full reconstruction. It is apparent that the minister had the Christmas and New Year festivities in mind when he made that assertion. But we are constrained to fault the minister’s position on this matter.

The decision to repair the road is belated. Not much will be done before the festivities begin. Besides, the state of the road cannot be described as unmotorable. The road is still better than some of our highways like the Enugu – Port Harcourt expressway which is in serious state of disrepair. Therefore, rather than waste money on ordinary repairs before embarking on full scale reconstruction, government can go ahead to award the contract for the reconstruction of the road.

The bifurcation between repairs and reconstruction will only bring about unconscionable waste of tax payers’ money. It does not make sense. Now that government has decided to return to the old regime of tollgates, we urge it to think through the new idea. It has to eliminate all the hiccups that made the old order unattractive and unprofitable. Strictly speaking, government has to ensure that the toll regime is properly managed.

If they have to be concessioned to ensure efficiency, transparency and accountability, so be it. Significantly, the minister has hinted that the private public partnership approach will be adopted to ensure the sustainability of infrastructure nationwide.

Government does not only need to do this, it has to also ensure that the tollgates are technologically driven so that there will be little or no room for manipulation by unscrupulous operators. The state of our highways has become such an embarrassment that whatever measures that government is thinking of adopting to return them to normalcy should be rigorously worked out. They have to be well considered. That is how best to ensure that we do not continue to beat about the bush.

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7 Comments

  1. It is better to privatise road net work in this country. That is de only way our roads will be developed. By this i mean de govt will issue out tenders to all construction companies with reputation to submitt quotations for a road to be built. This road will be financed by these private companies by themselves. De govt will allow de company that built de road to run it for a specified years in order to recoup there capital outlaid for a specified yrs. De amount of toll to be charged must be agreed btw de govt n de company in order to stop over charging. It must be noted that at de end of de agreed yrs, de private company will have to return de ownership of de roads to de govt. De merit of this is that de govt will not spend a single naira in de constuction of this road, while de built road is in possesion of de company that built it de govt will still be collecting tax from de company n at de end of there lease, de ownership of de road returns to de govt.this way will reduce wastage n corupption in our society, most importantly at de federal level. De question is this, will de govt of de day allow this system to be explored?.

  2. matthew tompolo on

    GOVERNMENT SHOULD GO AHEAD AND MASSIVELY CONSTRUCT TOLL GATES ALL OVER THE PLACE AT LEAST TO EMPOWER ANOTHER SETS OF THIEVES.

  3. WARNING!!!! DO NOT MOUNT TOLE GATES ON SPOILT ROADS. THE ROADS MUST BE SUPERBLY CONSTRUCTED BEFORE TOLE GATES COME IN. CONTRARY TO THIS THEY WILL BE IMMEDIATELY DISMANTLED.

  4. I AM SAYING THIS B/C I AM INVOLVED. WE HAVE SEEN THAT THE NIGERIAN ELITE AND OFFICIALS WHO HANDLE ROAD CONTRACTS ARE SO CORRUPT THAT THEY EMBEZZLE THE MONEY GIVEN THEM FOR ROAD WORK. THE MINISTER NOW WANTS NIGERIANS TO DIRECTLY PAY FOR THE CONSTRUCTION OF OUR ROADS. HE HAS EVEN FORGOTTEN THAT THE TOLLGATE COLLECTIONS DONE YEARS BACK WERE MOSTLY STOLLEN. NONE OF IT COULD BE USED FOR ANY MEANINGFUL THING. I DO NOT KNOW WHAT IS THE PROBLEM WITH THE PEOPLE IN GOVERNMENT. THEY DO NOT WANT TO DESTROY CURRUPTION FIRST, SO THAT THINGS WILL BEGIN TO WORK OUT. THEY WOULD RATHER GO CHURNING OUT POLICIES AND PROGRAMMES THAT WILL BE KILLED BY THE CORRUPTION THEY ARE HABOURING. CAN IT BE THAT THESE POLITICIANS AND GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS ARE THINKING THAT NIGERIANS DO NOT KNOW THAT THEY ARE TAKING THEM FOR GRANTED. CAN’T THE MINISTER LOOK AT OTHER COUNTRIES AND SEE HOW THINGS ARE DONE! IF THE COST FOR CONTRUCTION OF ANY PUBLIC UTILITY OR INFRASTRUCTURE IS TOO HEAVY, THEY CONSSESION IT OR GIVE IT OUT AT BUILD-AND-RUN CONTRACT. THEY BUILDER WILL THEN BUILD AND RUN TO COLLECT BACK HIS MONEY WITH SOME PROFIT, AFTER A GIVEN PERIOD OF TIME AND THEN HAND BACK THE STRUCTURE TO THE GOVERNMENT. WHY SHUOLD IT BE OTHERWISE. SO THEY WON’T BE ASHAMED TO BUILD TOLLGATES ON SPOILT DUSTY ROADS TO COLLECT FROM THE PEOPLE THE MONEY THAT WILL BE USED TO BUILD THE SAME ROAD? MY WARNING IS THAT THIS TAKING THE PEOPLE FOR A RIDE HAS REACHED THE HIGHEST POINT(APOGEE). THE DOWMWARD SLID COULD BE ANYTHING!!!!!!

  5. Onolomemen’s statement is that of a hardened criminal.Because when the FG was using the tollgates to extort hard earned money from the suffering masses of Nigerian,they gave no attention to any of these roads.This is dumanisation.

  6. Tollgates again?This will be an effort in futility.We already know that tollgate collectors in nigeria always print their own receipt.So how can our government handle this issue of corruption in this sector?

  7. the issue of tollgate should be drop cos when there were these tollgates, govt was not considering the masses and the condition of the roads then were bad to the stupor. the govt should build the roads and in every state, their governors should emulate what gov. fashola has done in Lagos. govt should live the poor masses alone, after removing the fuel subsidy, unemployment and terrorism which our leaders are benefiting from they are still looking for another avenue of exploiting the poor.

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