The plenary session of the Lagos State House of Assembly was thrown into a serious argument Tuesday, when a motion on the Concession Agreement for Electronic Tolling System (ETS) of the Lekki-Ikoyi Toll Bridge was moved by the Leader of the Assembly, Hon. Ajibayo Adeyeye.
Adeyeye, while presenting the motion, said: “That pursuant to the Lagos State Public Private Partnership Law, 2011, this Assembly do resolve to approve the request for the Ratification of the Electronic Tolling System Operations and Maintenance; Concession Terms and Conditions for the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge and Approval of the Fare Regime, as forwarded by Attorney-General / Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State.”
The motion had been seconded by member representing Amuwo-Odofin 1, Sultan Adeniji-Adele, and the Assembly’s Speaker, Hon. Adeyemi Ikuforiji, was about to approve it, when the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Taiwo Kolawole, observed that the opinions of members were not sought by the Speaker.
Ikuforiji, however, agreed with his deputy and gave room for members to air their views concerning the proposal by the state executive arm.
According to the proposal, a company under the name Lagos Tolling Company (LTC) had been registered to be in charge of the concession of the bridge. It was also gathered that 73 per cent of the gross revenue from the tolling would go to the state government, which constructed the bridge, while the remaining 27 per cent would go to the LTC.
Some of the members, while commenting on proposal, wondered why the one kilometre bridge would be subjected to tolling fee. But others, in their argument, complained that the voluminous proposal came to the Assembly late and, therefore, would need time to study and understand the proposal because of some technicalities also involved in it.
According to Hon. Segun Olulade, who is the member representing Epe Constituency 2, “some things are not clear because of the volume of the document and its value to Lagosians, we should put away the tolling for now as this would not affect the inauguration.”
On his part, the member representing Alimosho Constituency 1, Hon. Bisi Yusuf, said: “If you look at the volume of the document, you will discover that it needs a thorough and analytical mind to analyse it. The project was started two years ago and you are bringing the document for urgent consideration and approval, it is not the best. It needs time for examination, so a time frame should be given.”
Hon. Saka Fafunmi representing Ifako-Ijaiye 1 Constituency, said he was not convinced on why tolling should be allowed on the bridge, which is just a kilometre. “I know it was part of Lagos State fund that was used to build the project. Must we always make the people pay for every service we provide,” he queried.
However, the Deputy Speaker noted that the request of the government, as claimed in the proposal, was not in line with the 2011 Public-Private Partnership (PPP) law.
Kolawole said: “As far as I am concerned, this has nothing to do with PPP law. This is not about provision of infrastructure because the bridge has already been constructed using the tax payers’ money. So, why should we still toll a bridge that we have built with our money?
“Again, this proposal is coming too late. Our consent should have been sought before the construction of tolling system or the bridge itself. They simply built it in anticipation that we will just approve it. For me, I don’t want to be part of this. In deciding this, we must look at the future and what happens when we are longer on the floor of the Assembly.”
Ikuforiji, who disagreed with almost all the lawmakers who spoke against the tolling proposal, said the Assembly should be blamed for not raising these concerns earlier, when the state government was proposing the construction of the bridge.
Some of the lawmakers, however, refused to accept the blame, because, according to them, the government did not avail them the opportunity to ratify details of the project.
A letter from the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, was read on the floor of the Assembly on Monday, seeking the, “ratification of the electronic tolling system operation, maintenance, concession terms and conditions for the Lekki-Ikoyi toll bridge.”
The letter also sought the approval of the lawmakers on initial maximum tolls set out in the agreement. The toll rates are N250 for saloon cars; N300 for mini-vans, Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) and light pick-up trucks; N400 for non-commercial buses with a maximum sitting capacity of 26 persons; N100 for motorcycles with 200 engine capacity and above.
After much deliberation on the matter, the Assembly adjourned the plenary till tomorrow, where they hoped to take a stand on the matter.
The bridge would be inaugurated today by the state Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola