Why toll gates should be reintroduced —Ex-tollgate manager
Chief Dominic Ezeani, a chieftain of the Ndigbo community in Oyo State, is a former manager of the Lagos/Ibadan expressway toll gates. In this interview with ADEWALE OSHODI, he speaks on how resuscitating toll gates in the country would help improve the quality of roads. Excerpts:
YOU formerly managed the Lagos/Ibadan toll gate; how will you describe the decision to abolish the toll gates by the Obasanjo administration?
The decision to abolish toll gates in the country by the Obasanjo administration has really affected our roads. Although the former president had his reasons for scrapping the toll gates, the state of our roads today would not be this terrible if the toll gates were still around. During my time as the manager of the toll gates on the Lagos/Ibadan expressway, we worked with the Federal Road Maintenance Agency (FERMA) to fix portions that are dilapidated. We also cut the bushes along the route and a whole lot of things. In fact, the road was still okay until the toll gates were abolished.
So you want to suggest that the Federal Government should reintroduce toll gates?
The Federal Government has advisers who can inform it of the benefits of tolling the roads; however, as a Nigerian and someone who had managed a toll gate before, there are benefits to be derived in this area. Toll gate managers don’t just sit at the tolls collecting money from vehicles, they move on the roads, looking for how to make the roads better. For instance, the toll managers are responsible for clearing the bushes on the road, and this is important because it will help to make the whole road more visible. They also work with agencies of government to fix certain bad portions and even help whenever there is an accident. In essence, re-tolling our roads will bring a whole lot of benefits.
You mentioned FERMA and how it used to partner with toll managers to fix the roads, but of recent, we have not been hearing from them, what do you think is happening?
I don’t work for FERMA, so I wouldn’t know exactly what is happening, but I think the Federal Government needs to give its maximum support to this agency. FERMA was able to fix so many roads while it was still very active and it has highly qualified personnel to ensure that Federal roads are of the best quality.
What other benefits are there if the tolls are returned?
We are shouting that there are no jobs, but once the tolls are reintroduced, we will be creating huge job opportunities for our people. Apart from those who will be issuing tickets, there are also personnel that will be monitoring the roads every day. When the bushes are to be cleared, labourers will be employed; he number of people who will be employed through this policy change, will definitely take many young people out of the labour market, so this is another opportunity for jobs to be created.
One of the reasons given for the abolition of tolls was that the money was not getting to the Federal Government and that only the politicians are spending it, isn’t that enough reason not to bring the toll gates back?
Government has everything it needs if it wants to monitor anything; if the government wants to give the toll gates out to managers, then it will give them targets, so the reason for cancelling it is not genuine enough.