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.
“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 PDP National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, in a statement, said the idea was insensitive and lamentable.
He stated that the insensitive idea, in the midst of excruciating economic hardship and high costs of living occasioned by the alleged incompetence and harsh policies of the administration, was completely ill-conceived and anti-people.
He said, “The PDP insists that at best, such idea amounts to executive bullying which cannot be justified under any guise as it will lead to more increase in costs of goods and services across the country.
“Only recently, President Buhari approved the increase of Value Added Tax from five per cent to 7.2 per cent despite outcry by Nigerians, who are also being made to pay exorbitant tariffs for electricity and other essential services.
“Since Buhari came into office in 2015, his administration had continued to increase prices and impose all manner of levies on Nigerians which proceeds are being frittered by the cabal in the presidency leading to a bleeding economy and despondency among the citizenry.”
Ologbondiyan said that instead of putting more pressure on the already impoverished Nigerians by introducing toll gates at this point in time, “Buhari should exert himself, seek ways of creating wealth out of the abundant resources at the disposal of his administration or make haste to surrender the reign of governance to more competent hands.”
“The PDP, therefore, charges President Buhari to immediately rescind the decision to return toll gates on our highways as such is not in the best interest of Nigerians,’ Ologbondiyan concluded.
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