Nigeria’s cabinet approves tolling policy for roads, bridges

Cyril Okonkwo, Abuja

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Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council has approved a policy for the tolling of roads and bridges in the country.

The approval was given at Wednesday’s meeting of the Council presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, who briefed State House correspondents after the meeting, said that the approval of the policy was a step towards tolling, but pointed out that “tolls are not going to start tomorrow.”

Fashola said that the tolls will not start until Nigerian roads are motorable, adding that there were agreements that needed to be put in place before its commencement.

“There will be agreements that have to be placed, negotiated with government through the Ministry of works and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission,” he stated.

Open Tolling
Fashola said that the highlights of the policy include the adoption of open tolling as distinct from a closed tolling policy.

“The difference is that only open tolling policy, which is what we were used to before, you pay to at a barrier over a fixed or predetermined distance.

“The close toll system means that you will pay tolls over the distance you travel and the size of your vehicle. We haven’t operated that before. So, we are going back to what we know, he added.

He said that the cabinet also approved for consultations to be done and that surveys on willingness to pay are conducted before specific roads are tolled.

“We presented and the council approved that only dual carriageways of the 35,000 kilometres should be eligible for tolling by the federal government. 

“And dual carriageways represent only 5,050 kilometres out of 35,000 kilometres. 

“So, the total network of roads today, assuming we wanted to start today, which we’re not, that will be eligible for tolling on federal network will be 14.3% of the total network. So, 85.27% will not be eligible for tooling. 

“We have seen that most of those dual carriageways also have alternative roads, but they are single carriageways that’s why we left them.

“So, the only exceptions to single carriageway are some bridges and they are listed in the regulation, the Minister explained.

READ ALSO: FG appeals to road users to stop abusing roads

According to Fashola, Council has also approved that the toll would be used to maintain roads and bridges; to construct new ones as they accrue and also to pay the investors who invest in building or completing a road and then take a concession on it.

“We will also be going through a process of largely electronic toll collection and management system for audit and transparency. 

“We’ll still have some cash at the very many more and hopefully phased that out as we go ahead, he noted.

Exempted vehicles
The works minister said that it was also proposed that certain types of vehicles be exempted from paying tolls.

“Those are bicycles, pedal cycles, tricycles, motorcycles, and other moves that have two or three-wheeled transport use mainly by disadvantaged members of our community.

“They will be entitled to a fully 100% exemption, as will be diplomatic vehicles and military and paramilitary vehicles.” 

Fashola said that ministry decided to make the tolling policy national by providing a general framework.

He said that this would enable states in the country “to decide subject to their local laws,” while the local government could also do their own tolling based on considerations as a broad framework.

Stakeholder Consultations
Fashola noted that the Ministry of Works and Housing consulted widely with different stakeholders before formulating the tolling policy.

“We met with a lot of people, we met with government agencies first of all, but more importantly, we met with private sector and organised labour. 

“Nobody that we met with opposed the idea of tolling; at least none of the people that we’ve met with opposed it.

“Some of the people you might wish to know are members of the National Assembly: The Senate, and House of Reps committees oversighting us so that they can take this feedback to their constituents. 

“We had consultations with the Office of National Security Adviser, Bureau of Public Enterprises, the Ministry of Communication and Digital Economy, which will be helping us with the electronic and digital aspect of it.” 

He said that the ministry also met with those who are affected by the tolls, including the Ministry of Transportation, who supervises a part of the transport business and then the road transport employer’s association, the National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO) and the National Union Road transport workers (NUTRW).

Others were the Ministry of Trade and Investment and the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection council.

“We also recommended and put it before council, which are now embedded in this policy, that people who live around toll plaza area will benefit from what we call frequent user discounts.

“So that because they will be mostly impacted, unlike people who just pass once in a while and this is global best practice around the world.” 

So, these are some of the highlights of the policy. And then we got his start off toll because certain investment decisions have to be made in the next few weeks,” he stated.

Fashola said that the process to concession about 12 roads, spanning about over 1000 kilometres has kicked off.

We’ve classified vehicles into five categories, the cars, the SUVs and the jeeps as a second category. 

“Private bus and commercial bus as third and fourth categories, and then luxury buses and trucks as a fifth category.  

“So, the start off tolls that we have for financial modeling and investment decision making, cars will pay N200, SUVs and Jeeps will pay N300, private busses will pay N300, commercial buses will pay N150, luxury buses and trucks will pay N500.”

He explained that some of the prices were recommended by the operators.

 

Nnenna.O

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