Experts counsel government over plan to re-introduce toll gates
Stakeholders in the construction sector have advised the Federal Government as it is considering re-introducing tollgates on the nation’s highways.
The President of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), Otis Oliver Anyaeji, said it was a mistake to have dismantled the toll gates, adding that what government ought to have done was to remove the bars and leave the structures so that they could be useful in the future.
The NSE boss said the huge cost incurred by government in dismantling the tollgates was symptomatic of official wastefulness.He, however, acknowledged that government probably took the decision due to its frustration with the contractors in charge of the tolls, who were not meeting the targeted revenue.
Recommending a way for solving the problem, he said: “What could have been done was to conduct a traffic engineering study, to determine the number of vehicles passing through the road and do an estimate of how much money they could generate. On that basis, the government would be able to do appropriate monitoring to ensure that appropriate money got to government coffers.”
The Secretary, Marketing and Corporate Affairs of Nigeria Institution of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS) and former Chairman of Lagos Chapter of NIQS, Jide Oke, urged the Federal Government to ensure that money generated from the toll gates was judiciously used for road maintenance.
He stressed that the tollgates were removed by the Obasanjo regime because of lack of accountability and corruption by the ministry officials.
Describing the planned reinstatement of tollgates on the roads as a welcome development, he however, cautioned that the money realised from them should be channeled to regular maintenance of these roads so as to save the nation from the perennial loss of lives.
According to him, since work on the road came from the government, tolls collection and management including road maintenance should be outsourced to the private sectors with a caveat that tolls collected should be at subsidised rates.
For the chairman of the Apapa branch of the NSE, Yakubu Ali Garba, government can have a good intention but the issue is, will the revenue be judiciously used for that purpose?
Garba advised government to adopt public and private participation on the road construction because most of the roads are death traps. He stressed that toll gates must not be on every road.