Eleven years after the abolishment of tollgates on federal roads, the Senate yesterday urged the Federal Government to reintroduce the revenue generating measure to boost the nation’s revenue profile.
Apart from generating additional income for the country, in the face of progressive dwindling oil revenue, the Senate wants the tollgates restored so as to generate revenue for road maintenance.
The parliamentarians argued that the tollgate scheme was in tandem with globally accepted best practice. The Red Chamber took the decision after the adoption of recommendations of its Ad hoc Committee on Works, which investigated the total collapse of federal roads in Nigeria and prevalent gully erosion sites.
The committee was headed by Senator Barnabas Gemade (Benue, APC), who is now the Chairman, Senate Committee on Housing. President Olusegun Obasanjo had, in 2004, ordered the dismantling of tollgates across the country, citing loss of revenue to government and poor maintenance of the roads.
Also, sequel to the adoption of the report, the Senate mandated the Federal Government to make provisions for repair of major highways in the 2016 budget, lamenting that the state of the roads across the country was deplorable and therefore, needed urgent intervention.
The Senate also urged the Muhammadu Buhari administration to introduce weighbridges to protect roads and to discourage overtaxing highways that were not constructed for ferrying heavy vehicles and trucks. The committee further recommended that there should be rehabilitation and constant maintenance of existing roads infrastructure.
The Upper Chamber further invited the management of Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to brief it on the state of Federal Government’s concessioning and ways of exploring Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangements in road construction.
In his contribution, Deputy Majority Leader, Senator Bala Ibn Na’ Allah (Kebbi/APC), urged government to partner with the private sector in order to develop the roads. In his remark, Senate President Bukola Saraki said, “government alone cannot fund road construction.”