The Minister of Works and Housing Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola said Wednesday plans have reached advanced stage on the reintroduction of toll gates across the country.
The tolls were scrapped in 2004 by the then President Olusegun Obasanjo following government’s plans to impose N1.50 tax on Premium Motor Spirit (PMS).
The minister said this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja.
He said though the government dismantled toll plazas in the past, there was no law abolishing tolls.
“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; to dismantle toll plazas but there is no law that prohibits tolls 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 built with; what new considerations must go into them.
“What we are looking at now and trying to conclude is how the back-end runs and that is important because we wan t 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 that we are looking at a 10-lane plaza so that there can be more outlets and then they merge; so we need to acquire more land,” he said.
He said the expectation that collection of tolls would replace cost of roads was inaccurate, stressing that the traffic toll count that the ministry had done on major highways in the country – Lagos-Ibadan, Abuja-Kano and Abuja-Lokoja – did not suggest that there was enough vehicular traffic across all routes.
“In Lagos-Ibadan, the heaviest traffic you will find is between Lagos and Sagamu, about 40,000 vehicles; after Sagamu heading to Ibadan, it drops to about 20,000. So, most of it has gone eastwards going towards Ondo, Ore and by the time you get to Benin, the number significantly drops; it ratchets up again at the confluence where they are heading towards the Niger; so you can see that it is not a static 50,000 all the way.
“Same thing with Abuja-Kano-Zaria; after Kaduna, the traffic significantly drops; it is about 40,000 there too; after Kaduna, it begin to drop by the time you get to Zaria. If you have driven on that road before, by the time you are driving between Zaria and Kaduna, you will notice how thin the recurring number of vehicles you meet is and as you begin to head closer between Kaduna and Abuja, the number of vehicles begins to increase,” he said.
The minister said government’s move towards reintroduction of the tolls was not accidental, but deliberate and methodical.