Should FG reintroduce tollgates?

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The prices of goods and services are on the increase daily with no commensurate rise in wages. You don’t’ wake up one day and come up with an idea to reintroduce tolls. Was there due consultation between the public and the people representing the government? Do they have strategic partnerships that can hold government accountable? Who will be the technical partners of this project? What is the budget earmarked for the project? How will it be executed? When will it be executed? What will the proceeds be used for? Is there a revenue sharing formula between the project investors? These are the questions government has to consider before concluding whether or not to reintroduce the tollgates. The budgets of the federal and state governmentsi have been severely affected by the recent recession, no doubt.

With the issue of recurrent deficit expenditure, upgrading our existing highways in innovative ways with toll and maintenance, will no doubt, reduce congestion. But I must also warn against fraud.
Going forward, the idea of having tollgates is an awesome idea but the idea may not go down well with the masses due to perceived lack of transparency from the government. With regards to the comatose state of the economy, introducing tollgates will be one strategy to generate funds.
The aim of collecting tolls is to raise funds for highway maintenance by placing the financial burden on road users, rather than local taxpayers and government.
Those behind this move should come and understudy the Lekki-Victoria Island and Lekki-Ikoyi tollgates in Lagos because I foresee an emerging trend of states looking to finance road projects through the use of (state-owned) tollgate options.
There should be High-Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes, High-Occupancy Toll roads (HOT) and Alternate Access Routes (ACR) for road users who would not like to pay tolls.
May I also suggest that the best option for the federal toll project would be by public-private partnership or by concession, that way, transparency can be ensured.
  • Adeniyi Ogunfowoke (Event planner)
If they can account for every single penny and deploy it appropriately, I have no issues with tollgates. But if they can’t, they should forget the idea. If the country’s legislators are serious about alleviating pangs of this recession, they should reduce their salaries.
If they can’t do anything, they should just keep quiet. This is what I have for them for bringing this kind of idea: we will meet at the 2019 polls!
  • Idowu Olaniyi, alumnus Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife
The problems we are having with our legislators are numerous, especially with this 8th Senate. To me, most of their actions and the laws they are making are for eye-service. How would they back such a reintroduction? Recently, they made a move to validate UTME results for three years, later, their decision was rescinded. I think it is better for them to think deeply before making any laws and decisions in the red chamber.
The disadvantages of tollgates reintroduction on federal highways outweigh its benefits. If I may ask, will government officials and lawmakers’, with their long convoys, pay tolls when travelling? Will they pay the toll? Will other bigwigs in the country pay? Of course, they won’t! So, why should they back such a reintroduction if truly they meant well for the masses that put them in power?
I want to urge them to halt such a selfish decision without any hesitation. Meanwhile, are those roads even in good condition? If government wants to be collecting toll, all roads should first be put in good condition. Or can someone realise any profit without making investments?
Or simply put, let them (lawmakers) make the move to privatise the roads first, and leave these organisations alone to collect tolls. Instead of jostling for roads to buy, they will be eyeing the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas and other national assets. Selfish lawmakers!
  • Peace Akanji (An expert in Physical Planning and Urban Development)
The question is, does the government plan to consult the people before carrying out the plan? We should not be having the top-bottom approach to issues. After all, the senators will most likely not ply these roads. It is the masses who would ply the roads. Although the idea of tollgate is good if well managed, this will only possible when public-private partnership is introduced to implement it with Nigerians seeing the benefits of good roads.
I think the Senate should conduct an assessment. For instance,  opinions of Nigerians can be sampled, using social media platforms. They should find out what Nigerians want as regards their roads and how they want a tollgate idea be implemented and managed.
By doing this, the people are allowed to be in charge of decision making. Ideas can be good but to sustain them, the people have a role to play.
  • Sunday Soyemi (A school administrator)
It is a welcome idea going by the need to find a way out of the present economic recession. But can they tell Nigerians what they used the tolls collected many years ago for?
Our lawmakers should always realise that Nigerians are no fools who will just fall for any law that will not benefit them at all.
Why collect tolls from motorists whose vehicles have been damaged by bad roads and after paying so much into  the coffers of the government, they end up losing at two ends?
My candid advice is that if it is going to take off at all, proper accountability must be made and the funds realised must be spent on road maintenance because we lack maintenance culture in Nigeria.
Also, no one should be exempted from paying, even government officials must pay, irrespective of their offices or positions because we are all equal before the law and our leaders should learn to lead by example. May God help us out of this self-inflicted recession.
  • Tosin Adesile (Lecturer, Moshood Abiola Polytechnic)
Tollgates on federal roads? No way. You can’t give what you don’t have. No doubt, there is economic recession, but why does the government want Nigerians, whose vehicles are trapped daily along various federal roads due to portholes and failed portions, to pay tollgate rates? Most vehicle owners spend a lot on tyres and maintenance due to the state of our roads. It will be in the interest of the Senate to look for legislation to strengthen the economic policies of the government and return Nigeria to the good old days instead of reintroducing tollgates that will be managed by corrupt people. Let the rich stop pushing the poor because they (the poor) are near the wall.
  • Samuel Adeshina (An accountant)
In the first instance, it should not have been scrapped. Like every other thing, government wakes up one day and makes a draconian law just for immediate benefits. If President Olusegun Obasanjo had not scrapped tollgates, we would not be debating this issue. But back to where we are now in 2016, I suggest a public-private partnership like the Lekki tollgate.
Let the private investors build the roads, expand the roads, maintain them and charge a fee. Whether we like it or not, anything provided by government is a pubic good and one of the shortcomings of a public good is that people are wont to enjoy without paying for it. Until that stops, our dream of economic development will only be a mirage.
I believe that a system like that of the Lekki tollgate will work and we should never allow any government ministry to control the tollgates anymore, otherwise, we will be reinventing corruption.
  • John Ogunsemore, (A journalist)
Reintroducing tollgates on federal roads will only further compound the woes of hapless Nigerians who have yet to come to terms with the foreign exchange problem that has rendered the naira just a little more valuable than the paper on which it is printed. I am aware that the proposed nine per cent communication tax is still under consideration too. Taxing the people to death can never be the right way to shore up our depleting earnings as a nation. One perplexing thing about this our Senate that has outlived its usefulness is that it keeps coming up with disingenuous ways to make our lives harder. Why can’t these senators demonstrate commitment towards our collective national development drive by first revealing how much they earn?
There is no denying the fact that it is a means of generating funds that can be used to maintain those roads and equally raise government’s revenue. However, we should know that these times are extremely hard and there is a limit to which people can be pushed to spend non-existent money. Therefore, the plan to build tollgates is ill-timed and anti-masses.
  • Opeyemi Ibrahim (An auditor with KPMG)
I believe this is one of the measures taken by the Federal Government to shore up its dwindling revenue and I welcome it. However, given our tendency to mismanage funds and our lack of accountability, I will suggest that the money generated from the tollgates should be used wholly for the maintenance of the roads.
Also, the roads should be wide enough to accommodate at least five lanes and an efficient system should be adopted that will reduce traffic build-up.
Alex Arinze (Public relations consultant)
It’s a welcome development. With the dip in oil price, the government should explore every reasonable avenue to increase its income, but it must ensure the funds are properly accounted for and managed. It should also provide palliatives to cushion the side effects through massive construction of roads, provision of cheap and affordable means of transports.

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