As the name goes, Toll Gates are structures created at the entrance and exit point of highways to facilitate the collection of the fee charged the vehicles that use the highway. The money collected at these points on the long run serves the government to recuperate a percentage of the cost of constructing the highway. On the short run, it provides some of the fund needed to carry out proper maintenance of the highway and related infrastructure.
The structure of Toll Gates had always been present on our roads until the OBJ Government decided to abolish this very important arrangement. Certainly there must have been some cogent reasons that motivated the abolition but some positive minded Nigerians feel that what ever error would have been better corrected and the structure repositioned for improved services and increased yields. Some go further to argue that it has become a clear case of the purnishment being more injurious to our nation than the error itself.
We must be truthful to ourselves to realize that in this period of reduced income from crude oil sales, we have to source funds outside the government coffers to fund some categories of our pressing infrastructure needs. That many of our major and minor highways require complete rehabilitation is a plain truth.
Looking at the problem from a bigger picture, the solution can come up if the government takes the bold step to initiate serious dialogue with major road construction companies in Nigeria to get their input on the way out of the deadlock. For instance, a bargain where the road construction companies administer the toll collection and remit an agreed percentage of the proceeds to the government on a long term contract could spur them to agree to take up the road rehabilitation and maintenance task. Under this well defined legally binding agreement, the Federal Ministry of Works and the qualified Construction Companies will delineate rehabilitation and maintenance project modality and targets; agree on time limits and project supervising modality.
If this arrangement is rightly designed by specialists in the subject and implemented with deserved sincerity (corruption loopholes firmly blocked) will definitely yield the positive results that will encourage State Governments to apply the system to better their state road infrastructure.
Road accidents occur regularly on our highways across the country and in most of the cases the bad road condition happens to be a major contributing factor. Bringing back a restructured Toll Gates infrastructure will help reduce accidents on our roads as well as yield a fraction of the much needed revenue to the government.
Other benefits include improved control of robbery and other misconducts on the highway through the positioning of appropriate technology and equipment at strategic positions.
Swift response to road accident victims will definitely bring about corresponding decrease in avoidable loss of life. The establishment of better vehicle maintenance workshops, modern day truck parks and vehicle towing responses are some of the numerous benefits that this reinvention of the Toll Gate structure will introduce as the structure matures.
The re-invention will create new jobs as well as uplift the quality of our road netwoks to modern standard to correctly serve the needs of movement of persons and goods across the country with ease and by extention progress economic activities to the benefit of all.
In consideration of the necessity for improved road networks, our citizens are pleading with the present administration to consider these and various other genuine advantages too numerous to mention here and bring back Toll Gates on our highways.
Mark Neboh (Geom – Italy)
Italiann Language Interpreter and Author of the scam novel: The Godfathers of Scam.