The Minister of Works said Nigerians are willing to pay road tolls.
The Nigerian government is set to re-introduce toll gates and weigh bridges to roads, Works Minister Mike Onolememen, said on Wednesday in Abuja.
Mr. Onolememen said that the toll would only be applied to roads constructed with private sector funds as the federal government sees a need for private sector funding in road development.
Mr. Onolememen said that the ministry had earlier organised a conference aimed at preparing the minds of Nigerians for toll; and at the conference, it was discovered that Nigerians were willing to pay for road tolls.
He said the ministry has adopted a new paradigm for funding road development in Nigeria.
This, he said, included off-budget sources such as funding from multilateral agencies through concessional loans, public private partnership scheme and raising road bonds through the debt management office for the development of economic roads.
“What that means is that if you are going to source private sector funds to apply in road development project, it is inevitable that you have to toll such projects in order for the investment to be recouped.
“That is the only way; it is the rule all over the world it is not limited to Nigeria,” he said.
The minister said that the government had already shared the green paper on the new federal tolling policy to create awareness for road users. He said that construction of weigh bridges on Nigerian roads would soon be completed as the ministry had begun the distribution of such bridges since 2012.
“The objective is to ensure that we control axle loading on our roads because one of the major effects of these vehicles is that it destroys our roads. Our roads are designed to take 40-ton-vehicles but today we have 80 tons, 60 tonnes, 70 tonnes plying our roads.
“Controlling axle loading on our roads was weakened since the dismantling of the toll plaza because the toll plazas on most of these dual carriage roads provided an opportunity to bring every vehicle to a stop.
“You could better administer the trucks because they had their lane and in the truck lane, we had embedded these weighing bridges on those lanes so there was no escaping it.
“In the whole of West Africa, the menace of axle loading is worse in Nigeria; so we are committed to tackling that,” he said.
He said that the ministry would be working closely with the Federal Road Safety Commission and security agencies in order to enforce compliance.
He added that the ministry had gone ahead to engage the heavy users such as cement manufacturers, steel billet companies, and asphalt companies so that overloading could be tackled from the source.
On the Nigeria-Israel agreement on the road sector, the minister said that the agreement was merely a General Cooperation Agreement pointing out that it was now left for Nigeria to take it further.
He said that one of the Israeli companies in Nigeria constructed a toll road in Israel between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem which Nigeria hoped to replicate through such cooperation.