Fashola defends LASU fee hike, Lekki toll gates

Babatunde Fashola

Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State on Friday said the hike in fee at the state university (LASU) was to ensure improved quality of education and provision of adequate facilities.
Mr. Fashola told journalists at his Ikeja office that the other much talked about issue – tolling on the Lekki/Epe highway- was a contractual agreement that could not be altered by the government without dire consequences, including loss of trust in the state by international financiers. 

Besides, the governor noted that students of LASU asked for the fee hike by protesting to the State House of Assembly sometime ago over the falling standard of education and poor facilities at the institution.
The governor said the protest led to the setting up of a committee to look into how to resolve the issues raised, and a white paper on it recommended increase in fees to go side-by-side with better state funding.
“Government directs that the new tuition fees shall not be applied retroactively as current students are exempted from the increase. The new tuition fees will take effect from 2011/2012 session,” the governor said, adding that scholarships and bursaries were being worked out to assist indigent students.
On the concessioned Lekki-Epe Road, the governor said it was about the first of its kind in sub-saharan Africa, and was built in the interest of the people by a combined team of foreign and local investors on build/operate/transfer (BOT) basis. 

Mr. Fashola said arguments can be emotional and passionate, but the fact remains that the 50km-long Lekki-Epe Road was built by concessionaires who have fulfilled their part by investing their money, and would have to recoup their funds via tolling.
He said that to reduce the amount being charged at the toll points would mean that the state would pay about N4 billion annually to the concessionaire as subsidy, adding that such funds could, however, be used to provide public facilities in other areas. 

Governor Fashola also explained that the concessionaire would embark on the second phase of the project, the building of a coastal road, after recouping some of its invested funds in the Lekki-Epe Road project.
The governor denied that his predecessor, Bola Tinubu, owned Lekki Concessionaires, pointing out however that he was building on the foundations laid by Mr. Tinubu’s administration to achieve the ongoing transformation of Lagos State.

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