Residents beg Ambode to shelve proposed toll gate on Lekki alternative routes

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Governor Akinwunmi Ambode

While protest against the last week hiking of fares at the Lekki-Epe expressway toll gate and the Ikoyi Link bridges is yet to subside, the Nigerian Tribune gathered that some influential groups close to government had submitted a proposal for the tolling of the erstwhile alternative routes that connects the Lekki Phase1 to Victoria Garden City (VGC), under the Private Public Participation (PPP) arrangement.

Although, while the Lagos State Commissioner for Communication and Strategy, Mr. Kehinde Bamigbetan, in a text message to The Nigerian Tribune, described the allegation as “untrue”, a coalition of residents under the aegis of Eti-Osa Development Association said they had it on good authority that apart from the proposed ones, the suspended second tollgate at Chevron would soon commence operation.

“We want to alert the good people of Lagos state that some elements that are close to government had made a proposal to erect a tollgate that will connect Lekki Phase 1 to VGC.

“Besides, it’s being contemplated that the once suspended second toll gate sited at the Chevron axis will soon commence operation, the idea that was suspended by the former Governor, Mr.Babatunde Fashola at the wake of protest that greeted the erection of the toll gate”, said the spokesperson for the group, Comrade Tayo Adeniji.

Apart from the above, the ongoing protest against the Lekki Concession Company (LCC),  organised by another group, the Eti-Osa Development Forum (EDF),which has spent the entire week mobilising support via social media platforms called for a reversal of the new rates and some even urged the state government to scrap the toll gates entirely.

The protesters, who were under the aegis of Anti-Lekki Tolling Movement, ALTM, took to the streets last week, denouncing what they described as “an arbitrary increase of toll fares under flimsy excuses by the LCC”, calling for the reversal to the old fares, and total cancellation of the proposed ones.

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The leader of the group, Barrister Dotun Hassan, who spoke with Nigerian Tribune at the Admiralty Way last Friday, stressed that the road and toll constructed were erected with tax payers’ funds, arguing that toll should not be collected from residents to rehabilitate Lekki-Epe expressway.  A member of the group, Adeboye Adebare, argued that failure to yield to their demands could mark the beginning of revolution in the state, adding that: “the government has not review the minimum wage nor reduce taxes collected from the residents.”

Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune during the protest, the convener of demonstration, Dotun Hassan, demanded that a full audited report on what had been generated from the tolls since the structures were erected.

“We believe that  any government that believes in being accountable to her subjects needs to listen to their yearning and that is why since when the increment was announced, we cease not to register our displeasure over it.

“Besides, LCC is in business where it didn’t bring its own money, but entered into ambiguous agreement with government. Let the  government and the company explain to Nigerians what happened with the ‘buy back’ arrangement done by former Governor Fashola and why was Ambode interfered positively in 2015, before they are now unleashing terror on the residents?”

He argued that since the concession was bought back by the government in 2013 from the lenders, “LCC should not be collecting toll nor engage in any increment at the toll-gate because the fund is our money.

“The governor that had cancelled the toll plaza at Chevron should not hesitate to immediately remove the facility or reverse to the old fee, said Hassan, adding that if government fails to back track, the convener  would also not stop the agitation.

Praising theefforts of Lagos Police Command for protecting the convener from the attcks by hoolums that wanter to truncate the protest, Hassan sai: “It is the most barbaric in this era because this is a government that had given the residents opportunity to engage with the citizens.

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“We do not know the sponsors of these hoodlums but we know that LCC could have finance them to disrupt the peaceful protest. This is one of the strategies used to scuttle the protest embarked upon few years ago. We believe that we will remain resolute”, he vowed.

It would be recalled that LCC had implemented an increase in the tariff vehicle owners will pay to gain access through its Admiralty Circle Toll Plaza and the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge Toll Plaza on February 1, 2018.

According to the company’s Managing Director, Mohammed Hassan, the increment is a reaction to the “current business realities and increasing cost of operation.”

He said the current economic and business realities in the country means the company has been hit with increased cost of operations and maintenance of its loan obligations.

According to the new rates at the Admiralty Circle Toll Plaza, motorcycles are now expected to pay N100; saloon cars and tricycles, N200 (eTag: 180); sport utility vehicles, N250 (eTag: 225); light trucks and 2-axle buses, N400 (eTag: 360); heavy duty trucks or buses with two or more heavy axles, N1000 (eTag: 900), and commercial buses will pay N100 (90).

The post Residents beg Ambode to shelve proposed toll gate on Lekki alternative routes appeared first on Tribune.

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