The plan by the Lagos State Government to commence toll collection on the second toll plaza (Conversation Plaza) of the Lekki-Epe Expressway on December 16 was suspended indefinitely to allow for further consultation and sensitisation of the residents and other users of the road.
A source close to the concessionaire of the expressway, Lekki Concession Company, and the state government, which is the facilitator of the project, said the operation of the toll plaza was put on hold to avert trouble.
Special Adviser/Director-General, Office of Public-Private Partnerships, Mr. Ayo Gbeleyi, and the Acting Managing Director, Lekki Concession Company Limited, Mr Mike Edington, after a meeting with the Lagos State Governor Babatunde Fashola at the State House, Marina, last weekend, had announced the indefinite suspension.
They said the decision followed appeals made to the Governor Fashola by well-meaning Lagosians and the public at large in the spirit of the season.
The joint statement added that both parties would continue their constructive engagement towards addressing the impact of the situation within the purview of their respective contractual obligations.
Nobody expected the sudden change of mind by the state government because its officials had earlier taken journalists on an inspection of the two-way alternative route provided for motorists that might not be willing to pay for the use of the newly expanded expressway at the new plaza.
The toll plaza (Conversation Plaza) is the second on the 49.36km reconstructed road.
Aggrieved Lekki residents under the auspices of Lekki-Etiosa-Epe Estates Indigenes and Stakeholders Association had staged a peaceful protest at the Admiralty Circle Toll Plaza 24 hours to the commencement of tolls collection on the road.
The residents last year protested the imposition of toll at the first plaza.
Tolling was introduced on the road after the completion of the phase one of the road project in 2011. The first toll point is called the Admiralty Plaza.
The state government also had to create an alternative route to bypass the Admiralty Plaza as requested by residents before the implementation of toll collection.
The Conservation Plaza is built about 10km away from Admiralty Plaza, starting from Chevron Drive to Oluwanisola Estate.
A statement by the PPP office had said that the decision to commence the toll collection at the second plaza followed the completion of the second alternative road.
Gbeleyi, who led top state governmentâ€™s officials on an inspection of the alternative road, had said that the road was also constructed to serve as an â€œaccess road for residents of the community living within the axis.â€
He also said that the alternative road was constructed â€œto have a 90-degree angle. This angle would aid easy maneuvering of vehicles on the road including turning. We have constructed drainage and walkways, streetlights to aid visibility at night and suit the required standard of the state government.â€
He said that the alternative route had been designed to accommodate street lights, drainage system, dual walkways and detailed road signs.
These, he stressed, were put in place to ensure the safety and security of lives and property along the route.
Gbeleyi also said that the state government would deploy security and traffic operatives â€œto constantly patrol the road in order to ensure that motorists do not encounter any difficulty while driving.