FG, PDP Disagree Over Return Of Toll Gates

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PDP

The federal government and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday disagreed over the plan to return toll gates on Nigerian roads.

While the federal government said that there is no law prohibiting tolling in Nigeria, the PDP vehemently rejects plan.

PDP in a statement by its national publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, said 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.

This followed the hint to return toll gates by the minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, after the Federal Executive Council meeting in, Abuja.

However, Fashola said the government has already concluded the designs and materials for the toll gates.

According to him, “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.”

The minister also dismissed insinuations that collection of tolls will produce the replacement cost of the road saying ‘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.

He said: “The two or three heavy routes are the Lagos/Ibadan, Abuja/Kano, Abuja/Lokoja. Now, Lagos /Ibadan the heaviest traffic you will find is between Lagos and Shagamu, it is about 40 thousand vehicles. After Shagamu, heading to Ibadan drops to about 20 thousand. So most of it has gone eastward going towards Ondo and Ore and by the time you get Benin, the number significantly drops.

“It goes up again at the confluence where they are heading towards the Niger. So, you can see that it is not a static 50 thousand all the way. Same thing with Abuja, Kano, Zaria. After Kaduna, the traffic significantly drops.

“So I think it is important to have that at the back of your mind, not all roads have those traffic counts.”

Fasola further explained that; “I also want to let you know that what we are doing is not accidental, we are being deliberate and methodical. So collecting information to know what to do with which place and what.

“Going to PPP, I say that in the context of people arrogate PPPs to the right to toll,no, government can also toll. That is the point and that will happen without taking private sector fund.”

While referring to the Executive Order Seven that the President signed on tax credit for infrastructure, Fashola said essentially that is another PPP initiative where companies are supposed to invest their money in infrastructure and then recover it back from their tax payments.

“What people may not understand is first of all the company has to make profit before it can be taxed. So when you have to build a N50 billion highway, how many Nigerian companies are even doing turnover of N50 billion in the private sector?

“How many are declaring profits of N50 billion and the tax that you apply on N50 billion profit is 30 percent. So if you do that, it will be about N15 billion.

“Look at it that way, so how many companies are in that? A few banks maybe and perhaps Aliko and it is surprise therefore that the Dangote group are the ones who are building the Apapa/Oworisoki express way using tax credit,” he added.