The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) has condemned the plan by the federal government to re-introduce toll gates on major highways in the country from next year, saying there is no justification for it.
In a statement issued in Ilorin, Kwara state, on Thursday by its National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, the party described the plan as the latest in a string of obnoxious policies being pursued by the federal government, including the planned removal of fuel subsidy, the hike in electricity tariff, the single-tenure plan and the so-called Sovereign Wealth Fund.
”President Goodluck Jonathan, in his inaugural speech, said ‘the urgent task of my Administration is to provide a suitable environment for productive activities to flourish’. How can that happen now that his administration is emasculating Nigerians with a series of anti-people policies?
”Perhaps the President needs to read his own inaugural speech again so he can redirect his energy toward making life more abundant for the people, instead of inflicting sufferings of Biblical proportion on them,” it said.
ACN wondered whether the federal government is aware of the deplorable state of the roads across the country before even contemplating the re-introduction of toll gates, adding that no one should ever be made to pay for services not rendered.
”It is a cruel irony that the toll gates that were removed seven years ago when the roads in the country were still fairly motorable are to be reinstated now that the roads have virtually disappeared. Nigerians daily die on the traps that the roads have become, and all a government can say is that it will impose tolls on the same people. What style of governance is this?
”The ideal thing would have been for the government to begin a massive rehabilitation of the roads across the country, then allow Nigerians to ride freely on these roads for some time, if only to make up for the years they have suffered on the roads, before any contemplation of reinstating toll gates.
”The federal government may want to borrow a leaf from the Lagos state government, which has intervened to delay the payment of toll on the well-paved portion of the Lekki-Epe Expressway.
Today, Lagosians are enjoying a smooth ride on that road without yet paying any toll,” the party said.
ACN said all it takes for a government that runs on ideas is to evolve creative ways of maintaining roads, especially those that have not been handed over to private investors under the BOT programme, instead of the fixation on toll collection on non-functioning roads.