Eleven years after former President Olusegun Obasanjo-led federal government disbanded toll gates on the nation’s highways, the Senate yesterday called for its re-introduction, but with a directive that the revenue collected must be channeled towards maintenance of roads in the country.
The Upper House also directed its Committee on Works to liaise with the “Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, for appropriate concessioning to construction companies with solid capital base and excellent track records”.
These were part of recommendations contained in the report of the Ad-hoc Committee on Works as presented by its chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade (APC Benue North-East) on and considered by the Red Chamber.
Former President Obasanjo had in 2004 ordered the dismantling of toll gates across the country, citing loss of revenue to government and poor maintenance of the roads.
However, the committee also emphasised the need for “rebuilding and constant maintenance of existing roads infrastructure”. It also called for the introduction of weigh bridges to protect roads and to discourage over-taxing highways that were nit constructed for ferrying heavy vehicles or trucks.
The committee further advocated investment in rail, air and water ways to act as alternatives to road transport and to decrease traffic on the roads for longer lifespan.
“Concrete roads are advocated instead of laterite roads in some parts of the country, especially in areas not suitable for bituminous pavement”, it stated.
It, however, said the numerous roads listed in the report be immediately forwarded to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing for inclusion in the 2016 budget.
The committee identified poor design, inadequate funding, ineffectiveness of ICRC, lack of quality assurance and inadequate planning as some of the reasons for short lifespan of roads in the country.
Senators in their contributions supported the position of the ad-hoc committee report and called on Nigerians to contribute their quota to national development by supporting the reintroduction of toll gates and concessioning of some major federal roads.
In his contribution, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, (PDP Imo East) said: “When they came to Imo state, the team will agree that a state of emergency would have been declared on the roads. In Lagos state, some roads have been tolled and monies realized from them are used to maintain the roads. The federal government should begin to think in that direction.”
Also, the Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’ Allah (APC, Kebbi South) said, government must partner with the private sector in order to develop our roads. “In the developed worlds, people pay toll fee. Nigerians must pay the price. It is a global practice. Nigeria should begin to think in that direction.
“As lawmakers, let us look at Nigerians and tell them the truth. It is impossible for government to provide good roads everywhere”, he said.
But Senator Dino Melaye, (APC Kogi West) noted that “One of the major roads submitted in my report which led to the setting up of this ad-hoc committee was omitted from the report. That the road along Iyara-Iyamoye-Omuo- Ekiti road”.
In his remarks, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who commended the committee for the assignment, however expressed the pains efforts of the ad-hoc committee and contributions made by lawmakers in their separate remarks, however, re-echoed the need to support any lofty idea that will bring succour to Nigerians.
“I want to commend the committee. It is clear that government alone cannot fund road construction. It is therefore important to reintroduce toll gates along major highways in the country. Al the various committees must ensure that they follow through and perform their oversight. We will hold them responsible,” he said.

READ ALSO  President Buhari approves ecological fund projects