The federal government is set to reintroduce toll on some roads that will be built or reconstructed.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN, made the declaration while fielding questions as guest on the popular Channels Sunrise Daily programme.
The minister said it would be pretentious to assume that the roads would get better if we continued to make our roads absolutely toll free. He added that, there would however be alternative roads to the ones that would be tolled.
Fashola declared, “We should stop being pretentious that roads can be had for absolutely free everywhere. There will be toll roads if we want to get out of this situation. There will be alternative roads as well so that people can choose.”
Fashola also talked about severance package for ex-workers in the three ministries. He explained that the record he met showed that about 50,000 such workers were due severance pay and that about 47,000 have been paid representing about 97 per cent compliance.
“Now, for me, it is a clear evidence of an intention and good faith to pay. Pensioners are about 5,000 and 3,000 have been paid; that is more than 50 per cent compliant. When I queried the reasons for the delay, they told me there was a verification process going on and the approvals they had to spend money on that process had expired. I gave them a new approval”, the Minister further explained.
He said the seeming delay in payment was as a result of the verification exercise going on adding that the verification was due to the allegation that when the payment started “people were altering records, issuing employment letters at severance point and backdating them to people who were not members of staff”.
“That is what has delayed this process. The money to pay is there but they said they are not going to pay until they are sure of the people they are paying. So that process is going on. It has to be properly done and when it is completed we will pay. These are the issues. So when people get angry or agitated, it is to do so in a context”, he said, adding that it is not an unwillingness to pay as some people have already been paid.
On the call for review of the privatization policy especially with regards to the Power Sector, Fashola, who recalled that the nation’s refineries were concessioned in 2006, noted that there was agitation then “by the voices that we are now hearing”, that they shouldn’t have been concessioned adding that as a result, the YarÁdua administration responded to that and stopped the process.
He declared, “I think our choice as a nation must be experiential. The YarÁdua administration responded to the agitation and stopped the process. But that was in 2007; where are we today, nine years after? We still don’t have the quality of refineries we want”.
“The Ministry of Petroleum just shared with us the hard work they are doing getting the refineries back on after about seven years. Perhaps, as you are aware, Dangote is now building a refinery. Perhaps if we had allowed that process, and I think Dangote was one of the concessionaires at the time”, he said.
Noting that government could start reviewing and nothing would happen, Fashola said in lieu of reviewing, focus should be “on getting what is on the ground to work”, adding, “And that is what I am doing, that is what I’ve told you about getting all the various power plants to work”.