Reintroduction of tollgates: the bad, the good and the ugly

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Reintroduction of tollgates: the bad, the good and the ugly

Reintroduction of tollgates: the bad, the good and the ugly
December 09
13:43 2015

Debo Popoola

In 2004, former President Olusegun Obasanjo abolished the toll gate scheme and ordered that they should be dismantled all across the country, after accusing the managers of those toll gates of using the revenues generated from them to enrich themselves. Many people, especially the average poor Nigerians who always had to pay from the stipend they earned and still earning, saw this at a good development.

Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was right for taking this step as the money realized from these toll gates never made their ways to the appropriate authority. Reports were heard of toll gate managers building petro filling stations and buying expensive houses and cars with the revenue from the tolls.

During the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan, there was a plan to reintroduce toll gates by the administration and January 2012 was set for the reintroduction. Many Nigerians kicked against this move. The administration of Goodluck Jonathan was unpopular among most Nigerians because of the glaring corrupt practices among those in government then. So the reintroduction was largely seen as another means of creating vacuum and loopholes for money to be embezzled. Luckily for most Nigerians, the plan never saw the light of day.

Recently, the Minister for Works, Power and Housing, Mr Babatunde Raji Fashola has disclosed that the Federal Government is going to reintroduce toll gates at every entry points of major cities in the country. He said this is to raise fund for the maintenance of federal roads in the country.

The Minister said maintenance would be the administration’s watchword. He said they are setting up a robust maintenance regime to keep the nation’s highways in good shape. According to him, tolling is necessary to support government funding. So, it will not be too much if they ask every road user to pay a little to augment government funding for road maintenance.

He said it was eminent commonsense for the government to find that money. He said the government will use technology; so that those who don’t pay cash will pay by tokens or tickets and the money will be accountable and it will go to the right place. He promised that the money will be managed properly and accounted for.

The global oil glut has resulted to dwindling oil revenue for the government. The administration of President Buhari has promised to find other means of diversifying the economy so that more revenues will be generated to finance the huge budget it has proposed. And according to the minister of Works, Power and Housing, Mr Raji Fashola, the money realized from the toll gates will be used to maintain the roads. This sounds like a positive step. But the fear remains what it has always been whenever issue of toll gate is mentioned. The question in the minds of many is how would the government ensure that the money is channel to judicious use?

Corruption has become a cankerworm that has eaten deep into the system of government in Nigeria. Although the new administration has shown that it is fighting corruption, but the system cannot be said to be purged of the corruption.

Before toll gates are mounted again, it is advisable for the government to first create a system that will ensure that money from toll gates is remitted to the right authority. If not, it would be a recycled exercise of futility.

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