…as FEC approves N15.7 billion variation for road projects
By Lawrence Olaoye
The federal government has said that it would soon introduce electronic toll-gates on the nation’s roads.
This came as the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved the sum of N15.765 billion variation for the completion of Ibadan-Ilesha and Suleja-Minnna roads.
Responding to questions from newsmen during the weekly briefing after the Council meeting chaired by President Muhammafu Buhari yesterday, Minister of Works, Babatunde Fashola, said even the though there was a policy of government dismantling tolls on the roads, there was no law prohibiting tolling in the country.
He said “Let me just clarify this impression about toll gates. There is no reason why we cannot toll, there is no reason. There was a policy of government to abolish tolls or as it were, dismantle toll plazas but there is no law that prohibits tolling in Nigeria today.
“We expect to return toll plazas, we have concluded their designs of what they will look like, what material they will be rebuilt with, what new considerations must go into them. What we are looking out now and trying to conclude is how the bank end runs. And that is important because we want to limit significantly if not totally eliminate cash at the plazas while ensuring that electronic devices that are being used do not impede rapid movement.
We are also now faced with the need to acquire more land to establish the width of the toll plazas because I believe we are looking at 10-lane plazas so that there can be more outlets. So we need to acquire more land, that is the work that is currently being done now.”
The minister clarified that the collection from the rolls may not necessarily lead to cost recovery because most of the roads to be tolled are unviable as vehicular movements are low on the roads.
Asked how far the proposed Public Private Partnership (PPP) proposal to fix the nation’s roads, Fashola said recalled that the Executive Order seven signed by the President which encourages companies to invest their money in infrastructure and recover same from their tax payments.
Explaining the Council’s variation approval, Fashola said “The first one Ibadan/Ilesha bye pass 22kilometers. Contract was awarded in 2010, no budgetary provision so, the rates have become obsolete. Contractor wants new rate so, that has necessitated a revision of the rates by N3.165billion, that mean the old contract price of N6.7billion has moved now moved to N9.8billion. The same is true of the Suleja/Mina/Lambata road. The entire road is a 101 kilometers, was awarded in two phases. The first phase was awarded in 2010-40 kilometers.
The second phase covering kilometer 40 to 101 was awarded in March 2015 but they used the 2010 rates. Contractor is now at a point where he says those rates are not sustainable, he can’t continue and we have recommended that the revised rates be considered and council approved them. It’s a revision by addition of N12.6billion, so the contract price moves from N23.6blion N36.2billion.
It is important to emphasize that all of these are in keeping first with the desire and determination to focus on projects that can be completed rather than just started new projects. Also in consistent with the realities of economic rates market price indices for roads inputs like cements, iron roads and diesel, petrol, lubricant and the changes that have taken place in the national economic stage between 2010 and now.”