Written By Edesiri Vuevu
Transport expert, Mr. Kayode Otitoju has criticized the plan of the Federal Government to return toll to the Federal roads.
He said the plan showed how insensitive the present government is to the citizens who are currently enduring economic recession.
He said this during a discussion about road maintenance in the country with the crew on the popular television programme “Today On STV” Wednesday episode.
According to Mr. Otitoju, the National Road Fund Establishment Bill is needed to finance critical infrastructure, like high ways; to establish new roads, maintain the roads and which cost a lot of money.
He said, “Toll is one which you do not get charged unless you use the facility. Fuel tax by this period of recession is unreasonable because income level is low, population is high and when you tax the real input, it seems insensitive when you charge a common hair-dresser and barber for instance compared to a commercial vehicle.
He explained that, the investment on road can never be too much, because transport is like a land use that makes other land uses work, which makes it so critical to human life, because there’s need to move from one place to the other.
“As a politician with conscience, I won’t impose an increase in fuel tax, a politcian should be sensitive, because without citizens in the country voting you, you cannot have a political power, and citizens will not vote if you do not do things what makes life easy for them” he said.
Speaking about Public Private Partnership (PPP), Mr. Otitoju stated that, there is always an agreement and contract within a particular period, the tax paid will be refunded and everything is based on net present value of money, that is, when one invest today, the value will be more than when invested tomorrow.
He went further to say that, to provide critical infrastructure in the country, citizens who have the money will come and bail out in the short run and in the long run they recruit their money through tolls.
However, most concession roads are mainly toll roads because given a time scale of 25-30 years to recoup your money, then calculate how much per car categories of vehicles that will refund the money and still make return on investment.
Mr. Otitoju was of the view that through innovation and technology it is easy to be more accountable when the money is collected. Whereby, every passenger either directly or indirectly will pay the toll because there is electronic tolling.
To him, road and rail infrastructure is not something that is started immediately or taxed immediately.
The infrastructure have to be in place then the legislative arm of government have to be well represented and once it is acceptable to the citizens then it will limit the risk of accident, it will reduce journey time and get things done better and quickly.