18 years after, FG approves return of tollgates

•Cars to pay N200, SUVs, N300, commercial buses, N150, luxury buses, N500

THE Federal Executive Council (FEC) on Wednesday approved a new tolling policy that will reintroduce toll plazas on a percentage of the 35,000-kilometere highways and bridges in the country, after 18 years they were dismantled by the Federal Government. Also approved is the legal framework that will regulate the reintroduced tolling initiative. 

The approval was given at a meeting presided over by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, while briefing correspondents on the outcome of the council meeting, said only 14.3 per cent of the entire 35,000 kilometres federal roads that are dual carriageways will be eligible for tolling. He said vehicles will pay between N200 and N500 per trip, depending on their make, while diplomatic, military, paramilitary well as tricycles and motorcycles will be exempted from toll payment. 

He, however, said government officials such as ministers must pay the toll when they ply such roads and bridges. The minister said with the approval for the reintroduction of toll plazas in selected roads, modalities are now being worked out to determine how soon the tolling system will take off. Fashola assured that the planned open tolling system will not commence until the affected roads are made motorable, adding that agreements on the form of the plazas will be negotiated with relevant government agencies. 

He said: “First of all, toll will not start until roads are motorable. So, let’s be clear about this. There will be agreements that have to be placed, negotiated with government through the Ministry of Works and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission. 

“Some of the highlights are that we will adopt an open tolling policy as distinct from a closed tolling policy. The difference is that only open tolling policy, which is what we were used to before, you pay to at a barrier over a fixed or predetermined distance. The close toll systems means that you will pay tolls over the distance you travel and the size of your vehicle. We haven’t operated that before. So, we are going back to what we know. 

“We also approve that consultations must be done. Willingness to pay surveys must be done before specific roads are tolled.” 

The minister also said the toll collected, apart from being used to maintain the roads, will also be used to construct new ones while the toll system will be electronically driven for transparency. 

“We will also be going through a process of largely electronic toll collection and management system for audit and transparency. We’ll still have some cash at the very many more and hopefully phased that out as we go ahead,” he said. 

The council, according to Fashola, approved that bicycles, pedal cycles, tricycles, motorcycles, and others that have two or three wheeled transport used mainly by disadvantaged members of the community be entitled to a fully 100 per cent exemption for tolling, as will be diplomatic and military and paramilitary vehicles. 

He said the decision was reached after consultation with various stakeholders in the industry. 

“So, the start off tolls that we have for financial modelling and investment decision making, cars will pay N200, SUVs and Jeeps will pay N300, private buses will pay N300, commercial buses will pay N150, luxury buses and trucks will pay N500. 

“Now I think it is important to share with you how we arrived at these prices. Some of these prices were recommended by the operators themselves that I said we met. 

“Some of them were also obtained from a survey we did across the six geopolitical zones, talking to households and talking to people in the garages, motor parks and all of that, which was quite extensive. “We covered about 17 or so states or 22 states out of the national framework just to get a sampling of what people felt,” he said.

 

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