Last week, the Minister of Works, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, SAN, announced plans by the Federal Government to return toll gates to federal roads nationwide.
Last month, Governor Dapo Abiodun of Ogun State and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, his Lagos state counterpart, decided to commercialise the three federal roads by allowing private investors to fund and toll the roads. Their intention was to ease maintenance of the roads and enhance the movement of people and goods. Lagos to Abeokuta.
However, Gov Abiodun, speaking on Thursday in Abeokuta at the Statutory Meeting of Ogun State Council of Obas, said the Presidency had replied in the negative to a joint letter written by the two states. Abiodun disclosed that the Federal Government said it would rather partner with Lagos and Ogun in repairing the roads, instead of handing them over.
The Ogun State Governor, who was not satisfied with the decision of the Presidency, said he would re-echo the need to transfer the roads to Ogun and Lagos States in another meeting coming up later this month.
His words: “Governor Sanwo-Olu and I actually put pen on paper and wrote a joint letter to the Federal Government and demanded that these roads be handed over to us, so that we can commercialize them. We have since gotten a response from the Federal Government asking us that, rather than to transfer these roads to us, they want to partner with us.
“I was at Abuja last week to discuss this matter with the Presidency and they have asked us to come for a meeting. Because if you take a look at the Lagos-Ota road for an example, and look at the budget that has just been submitted; that budget provided for about N200 billion for federal roads. There is a road in Ogun State today that will cost about N60 billion to repair; just in Ogun State alone. So how can N200b suffice to repair roads in Nigeria. On the Lagos-Ota road, Federal Government is owing contractors N26 billion, so where do we start from?
“Last week, we had a meeting with the Presidency and Ministry of Finance and we’re looking at alternative means of funding these roads and we’re going to be visiting this issue of transferring the roads to us.”
In recent times, there has been agitation by states to repair and toll federal roads. Last week, Dr J.K Fayemi of Ekiti State appealed to the Federal Government to allow the state government to fix federal roads in Ekiti State