Stakeholders in the transport industry yesterday, reacted differently to the plan by the federal government to reintroduce toll gates on the country’s highways.
Workers’ unions and Nigerians, who commented on the announcement by the minister of works, Babatunde Fashola, after the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, also gave conditions for accepting the move.
The Kano State Chairman of National Union of Road Transport Workers, Alhaji Bala Gwarzo, has described the recent resolve of the federal government to reintroduce toll gates on our highways as a complete drawback considering its negative consequences on the plight of its citizens.
The chairman made the disclosure in an interview with our reporter yesterday, in Kano saying that introduction of toll gates would only compound the already battered economic condition of their members who are mostly drivers.
He said before the banning of toll gates, there was an outcry by the general public on the need to stop it based on several complaints received daily, which were all centred on exploitative tendencies.
The toll gates, according to the chairman, were basically the centres of extortion among the officials assigned to take such responsibility and to some extent, security agents who hide under that cover to exploit the drivers.
He said toll gates are not encouraged in a civilised setting and if the government insists on reintroducing them, it should make sure that all the highways are either reconstructed or rehabilitated to standard.
He called on the government to change its mind and allow the drivers to face the current economic realities that are biting harder in the country.
On his part, another state official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the government should always try to focus on issues that would better the lives of its citizens, rather than compounding their problems.
Leaders of the transport workers union in Kwara State were cautious in their reactions to the re- introduction of toll gate fees by the federal government.
The state chairman of Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Alhaji AbduRahman Onikijipa, said the transporters would await implementation of the fee before making their position known on it.
“It’s still a proposal by the federal government and the government has said that implementation would commence only when the affected roads have been made motorable. We want to wait till that time before we make our position known.
“Meanwhile, if the government goes ahead to implement it, we will also make necessary adjustments in the cost of our service. It’s what we buy that we will sell,” Onikijipa stated.
But, the chairman of the state’s branch of the National Union of Road Transport Owners (NURTW), Alh Ariwo Ola, declined comment on the development.
He said it’s only the national headquarters of the union that can talk on the issue.
Reacting on the reintroduction of N200 and N500 toll gate fees on the highway, comrade Abubakar Abubakar, secretary, Plateau State chapter of Trade Union Congress (TUC) told LEADERSHIP Friday in Jos that the reintroduction of toll gates on Nigeria’s highway is a welcome development.
According to him, if only the operators would do the needful by ensuring proper accountability with a view to maintaining the existing and construction of new roads with the proceeds from the toll gates, Nigerians would heave a sigh of relief.
In the same vein, the chairman of National Road Transport Workers (NRTW) NTA Motor park, Alhaji Ibrahim Maikudi, said his association is yet to meet to take position on the concession of roads by federal government, but however, said in his personal opinion and as a transporter, if it comes with good intention, it is a welcome development that should be embraced by all.
Maikudi argued that if there are toll gates, they would serve as security checkpoints and the proceeds would be used to maintain the existing roads and the construction of new ones.
In Lagos State, the general secretary of Federation of Informal Workers Association of Nigeria (FIWON), Comrade Gbenga Komolafe, has described the plan to reintroduce toll gates across the country as an act insensitive to the plight of Nigerians.
Speaking with LEADERSHIP Friday, Komolafe said he wondered which roads would be used in collecting money in view of the hard conditions motorists are facing based on neglect of all roads across the country.
According to him, reintroduction of toll gates at a period when people are still feeling the impact of COVID-19, is an act of insensitivity at the highest level.
For motorists in Kaduna State, the move is in order provided the roads would be put in good condition, while others said insecurity on the roads should be given priority and the roads made safe for motorists.
Mr Josiah Ejimatswa, who runs Kaduna- Abuja routes said, “The toll gate is not the problem, but is the road good enough to warrant collection of such toll gates? Government should ensure that the roads are good enough first. The roads are not even safe, we travel with fear, may God help us,” he prayed.
For Alhaji Mundi Yahaya, he said,
“Government should think of something meaningful to do and not reintroducing toll gates which some people use to enrich themselves through printing of personal receipts. There is no truth in Nigeria, corruption is everywhere,” he said.