Re-introduction of toll will worsen hardship, analysts say
Analysts have described Federal Government’s plan to re-introduce toll collection on federal highways as an invitation to severe hardship on Nigerians.
They said it would amount to multiple taxation on citizens, since Nigerians already pay tax on fuel, Value Added Tax (VAT), on driver’s licence and hackney permit.
They asked the government to justify how it utilised the taxes collected before imposing another on them.
The analysts described it as an insensitive and frivolous plan to mount toll plazas on roads that have become death traps.
Speaking in Osogbo, a data and public policy analyst, Samuel Atiku, said it is possible for the Federal Government to generate about N50 billion within 100 days, when the toll system kicks off.
He said the country has about 11 million vehicles, out of which five million vehicles are privately owned, seven million are commercial vehicles while about 600,000 are diplomatic vehicles, among others.
According to him, since the toll policy was not part of the manifesto of President Muhammadu Buhari, led Federal Government, it will be out of place for it to initiate it without consulting Nigerians.
Atiku noted that there was nothing to show for about N40 billion that Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) collects yearly, adding that the government i yet to justify the increment in VAT.
Atiku argued that re-introducing tollgates would be burdensome on Nigerians. “Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) is always classified into four components. First is Personal Income Tax, which we call classified payee. Second is direct assessment, the third is road tax. When you are renewing your vehicle licence, one way or the other, or when you are paying for a hackney permit. Aside from the insurance component, even when you get your driver’s licence, you are paying tax one way or the other.”
On the negative effects of the toll system, Atiku said the cost of transportation would most likely go up, and when that is transferred to the people, in terms of other items that go through the road, especially food items, their prices will go up the more. There will be inflationary tendencies because prices of things will turn up and it will further plunge the masses into hardship.
Also speaking, the spokesperson of Transparency and Accountability Group, Ayo Ologun, described the increase in the registration and licensing of vehicles in the country by 50 per cent as a proof of Federal Government’s insensitivity to the plights of Nigerians.
Ologun said it would be frivolous of the government to reconstruct tollgates that were demolished with taxpayers’ hundreds of millions of Naira.
He said: “It is a sign of irresponsibility on the part of the government, it is insensitive and a waste of taxpayers’ money.
“One would have thought that there should have been construction of roads before thinking if there would be a need to put toll gates. In other advanced countries, they are thinking of how to increase their road network. The best roads we have in Nigeria are double lane carriage, other countries of the world are thinking of spreading their roads to four-six lanes carriage.
“But here in Nigeria, the little bad ones we have, we are thinking of putting toll gates, which means we are putting more lives of the people at risk. So, I see it as a sign of irresponsibility and wastefulness on the part of the government. It is uncalled for at a time like this when an average Nigerian is barely surviving and not being able to feed,” he said.