When the idea of toll gates on federal roads first came up years ago, it was to use monies collected from such gates to maintain the roads, being that the federal government found it difficult to maintain those roads on their own.
However, as with most things in this country, the toll gates failed to solve the problem for which they were introduced, leaving the roads in worse conditions. At that time, the toll gates were leased to private individuals in the belief that they would better manage the toll gates but that too, failed to achieve results.
Recently however, there have been renewed calls by Nigerians for the return of toll gates on our high ways. Such calls have been occasioned by the worsening condition of the roads which the federal government appears not ready to tackle.
Speaking to newsmen recently on the occasion of his one year in office, the minister of power, works and housing, Babatunde Fashola, said the toll gates would return if the people wanted them. This shows the readiness of the federal government to allow the return of the toll gates.
The need for their return cannot be overstated. The roads have become death traps and are as bad as they have ever been. Granted that the past experiment failed, the hope is that lessons must have been learned which will be applied to make the second experiment work better.
To say that the federal government has failed Nigerians as far as road construction and maintenance are concerned is to state the obvious. It is even sadder to note that when they gave individuals power to run the toll gates, they could not get results. From every indication, money must have exchanged hands between officials of government and those given the toll gates to man.
As the renewed clamour for the return of toll gates therefore mounts, we join in calling for their return but this time we insist that the right things be done.
The toll gate idea is a good one which is the quickest way government will raise revenue to maintain roads. With proper monitoring by the appropriate quarters, regardless of whether government mans them or gives them out to private hands, the project stands a better chance of succeeding this time.
Our roads are not just good enough and any measure taken to enhance the condition of the roads is welcome. Road users will gladly pay any toll once they realize that such tolls are used appropriately.