- FEC okays proposal •Implementation starts after completion of projects
Payment of toll on some federal highways will return soon, Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola said yesterday.
The tolling will begin after the roads have been fixed, he added.
According to the former Lagos State Governor, yesterday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting approved a memorandum his ministry presented to allow tolling on 5,050-kilometre of dual-carriage federal roads and bridges after all modalities have been finalised.
There are about 200,000-kilometre of roads across the country of which 35,000-kilometre (about 14 per cent) belong to the Federal Government.
Fashola told reporters at Aso Villa after the FEC meeting that vehicles will pay between N200 and N500 depending on how they are classified.
He said the toll collection will be automated to guarantee transparency.
Funds realised from the toll plazas will be used to maintain the roads and to construct new ones, he explained.
He added that wide consultations were made before arriving at the decision.
The minister argued that unless there is an alternative source of funding, the government will not be able to maintain its roads.
The Administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003, removed toll plazas and ended tolling on major highway, claiming lack of transparency.
Although Fashola did not name the likely roads and bridges to be tolled, major federal dual carriage ways are: Lagos-Ibadan Expressway; Onitsha-Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway and Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Highway.
The others are: Shagamu – Benin – Asaba: Four lane, dual carriageway (100kmh); Keffi – Akwanga; Okene-Lokoja-Abuja and Onitsha – Owerri.
Fashola said: “The big step to actual tolling was taken today by presenting for approval the broad policy that will guide the tolling so that local people, states, local governments, all those who manage roads, investors who want to come in, will know what our tolling policy is. And that will form the basis of their financial modelling, their investment decision.
“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 toll 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”, he explained.
He added that vehicles plying the tolled highways will pay between N200 and N500 per trip depending on the capacity of the vehicle.
“We need to have a kick off policy. So we’ve classified vehicles into five categories, the cars, the SUVs and the jeeps as a second category. Private bus and commercial bus as third and fourth categories. And then luxury buses and trucks as a fifth category.
“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 busses 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 geo-political 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 explained.
“We have proposed and council has approved that certain types of vehicles be exempted for paying tolls. Those are bicycles, pedal cycles, try cycles, motorcycles, and others that have two or three wheeled transport used mainly by disadvantaged members of our community, they will be entitled to a fully 100% exemption, as will be diplomatic and military and para military vehicles.
“We concede this as a national policy that’s why we’re making very general framework. So that states can also decide subject to their local laws, local government can do their own tolling based on all of these considerations as a broad framework”.
Fashola emphasised that government consulted widely before taking the decision.
“We met with a lot of people, we met with government agencies first of all, but more importantly, we met with private sector and organised labour. Nobody that we met with oppose the idea of tolling, at least none of the people that we’ve met with opposed it.
”Some of people you might wish to know are members of the National Assembly, the Senate, and House of Reps committees oversighting us so that they can take this feedback to their constituents. We had consultations with the Office of National Security Advisor, Bureau of Public Enterprises, the Ministry of communication and digital economy, which will be helping us with the electronic and digital aspect of it.
“We also then met with those who are affected by the tolls themselves, Ministry of Transportation, who supervises a part of the transport business and then the road transport employers Association, the National Association of road transport owners (NARTO) and National Union Road transport workers (NUTRW) and Ministry of Trade and Investment, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection council. These are some of the people who have made very useful input which have been embedded in some policies that I have spoken about”, he said. (The Nation)