Senate Moves To Return Toll Gates On Federal Highways | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Senate Moves To Return Toll Gates On Federal Highways

Nigeria senate, JAMB
Posted: Oct 26, 2016 at 9:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Rotimi Akinwumi

Abuja

 

A motion seeking to reintroduce toll gates in Nigeria sailed through Tuesday plenary at the Senate.

The motion was moved by Suleiman Nazif harping on the need for the re-establishment? of toll gates on the nation’s federal highways.

It would be recalled that former President Olusegun Obasanjo had on December 30, 2003 disbanded toll gates across the country with the ban taking effect on January 1, 2004.

President Obasanjo then based his reason for scrapping the policy on claims that it had outlived its usefulness.

He also stated then that the scheme was placing another financial burden on Nigerians.

But in December 2015, the Senate passed a motion calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to reintroduce toll gates across the country in order to reduce the burden on the roads and as well generate revenue to take care of the roads.

However, 10 months after the first motion, another one appeared on the floor of the Senate seeking same objective.

In passing the motion, the Senate, after debates by members, mandated its Committee on Works to carefully study the toll gate policy together with other relevant stakeholders on effective and efficient ways to carry out the policy aimed at producing a holistic package to generate funds for road maintenance.

In his lead debate, Nazif said the purpose of reintroducing the toll gates is to generate revenues which will aid effective and efficient maintenance of federal highways.

He said the deplorable state of roads across the country has become a national shame and unnecessary embarrassment. The lawmaker noted that the re-establishment of toll gates will solve the problem of dilapidated road networks.

“Besides revenue generation, the presence of toll gates which are normally managed by armed security agents provides a level of safety for road users. The government cannot fund road construction alone.

“The poor state of roads in Nigeria has remained for many years a great source of risk for travelers and transporters. Cases of road accidents being reported daily in the news media paint terrible and pathetic pictures of this ugly development.”

All the lawmakers who contributed spoke in favour of the motion and stressed the need why the reintroduction was timely.

Some of the senators, who spoke on the motion included the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume; Deputy Minority Whip, Abiodun Olujimi and the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary.

Ndume said, “This Senate needs to support this motion in view of the fact of the realities on ground as to the condition of our highways. There is the need for us to diversify, looking at various sources of revenue to provide and maintain the infrastructure that are critical, one of which is our roads.

“We all know and are mindful of the situation in which our roads are. That is to say there are no roads in the first place, not to talk of paying for their use. But we all know that if we repair the roads, there is the need to always maintain them, and that can be adequately taken care of by the resources we collect from the toll gates or to complement the money allocated to the roads.”

Olujimi stated that “before we go into tolling, we need to look at the state of our roads. Earlier, this 8th Senate reviewed the state of our roads. Nothing has changed because the roads are getting from bad to worse.

“We need to quickly look at that issue – repair the roads, reintroduce tolling and, of course, weigh bridges. Without installing weigh bridges, we will have so many of these trailers overloaded ruining the roads recently constructed.

“We can learn from the story of Lagos. Two major roads have been tolled in Lagos and they are the best of roads because they are properly maintained and the people who are collecting tolls are ensuring that no potholes appear. And that is what we need as a nation.”

Deputy President of the Senate, who presided during plenary, also lauded the move saying, “As you are aware, we had toll gates and it was evident that the Ministry of Works didn’t have the capacity to maintain the toll gates.

“And when they were handed over to private operators, it (the system) was largely abused and there were a lot of fraudulent and sharp practices, which led to the government abolishing it and removing the toll gates.

“I think the right thing is to make the appropriate policy and develop the right model, especially now that we have toll gates all over the world that are driven by electronics. Once that is put in place, many banks, I am sure, will like to fund road development and they can be sure that they will get back their investments. Private operators can put in their money, once the policy is right and the model is well developed.”

In ruling over the motion, he urged the Committee on Works to do a thorough job and report back as soon as possible so that lawmakers can take a position on the issue.