The Senate, yesterday, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency reintroduce toll gates on the nation’s highways to create a financial pool through which bad roads could be maintained and rehabilitated.
The Senate also called for the introduction of weigh bridges to help protect the roads as well as discourage the over usage of the highways that were constructed for ferrying heavy vehicles and trucks.
Also yesterday, the Senate mandated the Federal Government to make provisions for repair of major highways in the 2016 budget against the backdrop that the state of existing roads were deplorable and would need urgent Federal Government’s intervention. The resolutions were sequel to the adoption of recommendations of Senator Barnabas Gemade led ad-hoc committee on works which investigated the total collapse of federal roads in Nigeria and prevalent gully erosion sites.
The senate also summoned the Management of Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to brief the lawmakers on the Federal Government concession programme and the Public-Private Partnership’s (PPP) arrangement on roads. The call for toll gates to resurface on the nation’s highways was coming eleven years after former President Olusegun Obasanjo disbanded toll gates along major federal highways in the country.
It would be recalled that 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. The Senate also called for investment in Rail, Air and Water ways to act as alternatives to road transport and to decrease traffic on the roads for longer lifespan as well as the construction of concrete roads instead of laterite roads in some parts of the country especially in areas not suitable for Bituminous pavement.
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 gate 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.
In his contribution, Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’ Allah (APC, Kebbi) said, government must partner with the private sector in order to develop our roads. He said, ”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.”
Senator Dino Melaye, APC, Kogi West said: “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 road is Ekiti-Kabba road.”
In his remarks, Senate President Bukola Saraki who hailed the Committee for the assignment, however, expressed the pains the ad-hoc committee went through, and contributions made by lawmakers in their separate remarks. He ,however, re-echoed the need to support any lofty idea that will bring succour to Nigerians.
Saraki said: “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.”