Be Prepared! Fashola Tells Nigerians

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, Wednesday alerted Nigerians to get prepared as they would soon be paying tolls on federal roads nationwide.

He said the Federal Government has deliberately and methodically concluded designs and plans for the return of toll plazas on federal roads.

Briefing State House Correspondents after the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, Fashola said: “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 the government to abolish tolls; to dismantle toll plazas but there is no law that prohibits tolls in Nigeria today.”

According to him, “We expect to return toll plazas. We have concluded their designs: 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 want 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. 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.’’

The minister dismissed the insinuation that toll collection would replace the cost of road construction.

On the traffic toll count carried out by his ministry on major highways, Fashola said: “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.

“The same thing with Abuja-Kano-Zaria – after Kaduna, the traffic significantly drops. It is about 40,000 there too, but after Kaduna, it begins 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. As you begin to head closer between Kaduna and Abuja, the number of vehicles begins to increase.

“I think it is important to have these figures at the back of our minds. Not all roads have that traffic count.”

Toll plazas were prevalent on federal roads until former President Olusegun Obasanjo dismantled them for Nigerians to drive freely.