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Lagos lawmakers decry tolling of Lekki-Ikoyi link-bridge

By The Citizen
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Proposal by the Lagos State government to charge toll rates ranging from N100 to N400 on the Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge was Tuesday faulted by lawmakers in the state.

Except for their Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji, about 20 lawmakers present at the plenary, raised questions on why the state government should concession and collect tolling on a bridge built with taxpayers' money and fully paid by the government.

Besides, the lawmakers expressed dissatisfaction on why the state government chooses to present a voluminous document on terms and conditions of concession agreement and tolling to the lawmakers for approval, some days before the commissioning of the infrastructure in question. The bridge will be officially commissioned Wednesday.

In a letter read on the floor of the Assembly on Monday, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Ade Ipaye had on behalf of the state government written a letter, seeking the 'Ratification of the electronic tolling system operation, maintenance, concession terms and conditions for the Lekki-Ikoyi toll bridge.'

The letter also sought the approval of the lawmakers on initial maximum tolls set out in the agreement. The toll rates are N250 for saloon cars; N300 for mini vans, Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and light pick-up trucks; N400 for non-commercial buses with a maximum sitting capacity of 26 persons; N100 for motorcycles with 200 engine capacity and above.

Presenting the proposal as a motion Tuesday, Majority Leader, Dr Ajibayo Adeyeye noted that the bridge was built by the state government and has been concessioned to Lagos Tolling Company, working with two technical partners.

By the agreement, 73 per cent of revenue generated goes to the state government, while 27 per cent goes to the tolling company. Also, 80 per cent of all incidental activities like adverts go to the state government, while 20 per cent goes to the operating company. The concession agreement is for 10 years, and has five years renewable period.

Speaking on the motion, member of the House, Saka Fafunmi noted that construction of the bridge was a laudable initiative, but 'must we always pay toll on every projects made by government?'

'On this one-kilometre bridge, I'm not convinced at all, after all, we did not borrow money to have this done,' he said.

Apparently in agreement with Fafunmi, Deputy Speaker of the House, Taiwo Kolawole noted that the request of the government, as claimed in the proposal, was not in line with the 2011 Public-Private Partnership law.

He said:  'As far I'm concerned, this has nothing to do with PPP law. This is not about provision of infrastructure because the bridge has already been constructed using the taxpayer's money. So, why should we still toll a road that we have built with our money?

Rotimi Olowo, representing Shomolu I Constituency suggested that the House should invite the Special Adviser on PPP and Commissioner for Works to explain details of the concessioning, coupled with prohibition of some vehicles from plying the bridge.

Prohibited from the route are commercial motorcycles popularly known as okada, tricycles, commercial vehicles including Danfo and high capacity buses, heavy-duty trucks, articulated trucks and lorries, among others.

Reacting to dissatisfactions raised by members, Speaker, Adeyemi Ikuforiji said the House should be blamed for not raising these concerns earlier, when the state government was proposing the construction of the bridge.

The lawmakers would not accept the blame, because, according to them, the government did not avail them the opportunity to ratify details of the project.

The House, however, adjourned till Thursday, where they hope to take a stand on concessioning agreement and tolling.