The Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership (CACOL) has decried the Federal Government’s proposition for the reintroduction of toll gates to bridge funding gaps for road repairs.
CACOL, in a release by its Executive Chairman, Mr. Debo Adeniran and issued by Adegboyega Otunuga, the Coordinator of CACOL’s Media and Publications, said “We recollect what the then President Olusegun Obasanjo’s regime stated when he scrapped toll gates on our highways nation-wide late in 2003 and implemented on 1st of January, 2004, to the effect that they (The toll-gates) had not only outlived their usefulness and constituted inconvenience to motorists, but also encouraged corruption.
“That exercise of dismantling the toll-gates across the country, reportedly cost Federal Government over N2bn (Two Billion Naira) tax payers’ money. We therefore wonders how much of additional tax payers’ funds that ordinarily should be used in easing their current socioeconomic problems, especially their suffering of travelling by those roads that were in dilapidated state for long by giving them free fuel vouchers for their endurance, rather than further extorting them.
“The fact of the matter is that tolling means second or third taxation on the citizens as the roads are being repaired and rehabilitated from the pool of tax already contributed by same citizens, one way or the other while the rate payable on value added tax (VAT) on all goods and services in the country has, only of recent, being proposed for an increase from five (5) percent to seven point two (7.2) percent.
What this clearly shows in today’s Nigeria is the fact that, ‘the beautiful ones are yet to be born’ as far as leadership that addresses the suffering and frustration of majority Nigerians is concerned. But some of us within the Civil Society circle are not altogether surprised by the process that gave birth to an outcome of this debilitating and anti-poor policy being vigorously pursued by a known hater of the poor and a pseudo-Capitalist!
“In retrospect, here is a Minister of Works, who for four (4) years superintended over the degeneration and degradation of the roads and was only waiting for the right opportunity to impose more hardship on the people like he did when presided over the affairs of Lagos state.
“Instead of him to upgrade and expand the existing infrastructure in Lagos to accommodate the mega population that conferred the status of mega-city on that state, he started to implement policies and programmes that would easily frustrate the poor out of the state.
“Now that we ought to persuade Nigerians that had either been frustrated out of the country or made to commit suicide or taken to criminality to have a rethink and join in the task of positively rebuilding the country, it is when the Minister of Works wants to compound their woes.” The body said.
It added, “Aside the time, nay, man-hours and resources wasted at toll gates as we have it on Lekki road in Lagos; the queue at the plazas portend grave danger to life and property of road users as such bottlenecks could be prone to devastating road accidents, especially with fuel tankers or attacks by terrorists and insurgents.
The body advised President Muhammadu Buhari to devise a way of sampling opinions of end-users or those were likely to be at the receiving end of the policy before finally deciding on implementation.