By Olasunkanmi Akoni & Kingsley Adegboye
LAGOS â€” The planned introduction of tolls along the 49.4-kilometre Lekki/Epe Expressway which had been widely speculated to commence yesterday has been put on hold indefinitely.
Lekki Concession Company Limited, LCC, the concessionaire for the project announced that payment of tolls would not commence on August 1, 2010, as being widely speculated.
Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of LCC, Mr. Opuiyo Oforiokuma,Â who made the clarification, saidÂ tolling at the Admiralty Circle Plaza was dependent on the fulfilment of certain conditions.
Such conditions, according to him, include: “The completion of the first six kilometres, expansion of Exxon Mobil Bridge and completion of the first toll plaza complex and independent Engineer is expected to certify these conditions as ready for use in line with international best practice. Only thereafter, will LCC be entitled to tolling at the first toll plaza known as Admiralty Circle Plaza.â€
LCC also noted that notwithstanding the timing of when independent certification would be achieved, â€œwe will still give the public no less than 14 days notice of the toll tariffs before we commence tolling.”
According to Oforiokuma, â€œwe have not as yet announced the toll tariffs. Accordingly, we have no plans to commence tolling on August 1.
“In view of the foregoing, we would like the general public and all other stakeholders to be aware that LCC has not at anytime informed the public, the press or government that we will commence tolling on August 1, 2010. These reports are not accurate and do not reflect the true state of affairs.â€
Also, the suspension might not be unconnected with a stakeholders’ meeting comprising the people of Ibeju-Lekki and the Concessionaire of the Lekki-Epe Expressway project at the instance of Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State aimed at resolving the planned collection of toll along the axis.
The peace meeting resulted in the setting up of a committee of all the stakeholders comprising traditional rulers, elders of Eti-Osa, Iru and Ibeju-Lekki as well as the concessionaireâ€” Lekki Concession Company, LCC, to work towards the amicable resolution of all the issues at stake.
Fashola lists gains
Fashola hosting the stakeholders at the Banquet Hall, Lagos House, Alausa, explained that the tolling of the road was in order to enable the concessionaire recoup the investment it made, adding that it might not be easy initially, the long-term benefits to the community far out-weighÂ the challenges.
His words: â€œChange does not come so easily, but the gains outweigh the pains, the road will open up access to the on-going Lekki Free Trade Zone, the Lekki Seaport including the refinery which the Federal Government plans to site in the area.
â€œI implore us, we are not building only road; our agreement is more than just building a road. It is not for the development of Eti-Osa alone but the entire Lagos State,” the Governor pleaded, pointing out that the concessionaire sought assurance from the state government that there would be no breach of agreement.
According to Fashola, even after the assurance by the state government, the Concessionaire still did not commence work until the government supported the agreement with a law passed by the representatives of the people in the State House of Assembly and the Federal Executive Council deliberated and passed a resolution on it.
On the gains already being recorded as a result of the road, the governor said the road project had led to the appreciation of property value in the area, adding: â€œThe completion of the road is what the area is expecting. It is for the future development of the area.â€