By Innocent Anaba
LAGOS—Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe Residents and Indigenes Association, LEEISA, held a peaceful rally on the Lekki-Epe Expressway last Monday  to protest the proposed toll  to be charged on motorists and residents by the Lekki Concession Company, LCC, which had initially announced commencement of the exercise on the road from  January 3, 2011.

The residents and stakeholders had embarked upon mass campaign against the project, leading to bulk SMS and e-mail messages to the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN.

Also, Lagos lawyer, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa had dragged LCC and Lagos State government to court over the tolling on the road, which residents say was exploitative and criminal.

Though the state government had announced an indefinite suspension of the toll collection, the residents insisted on outright cancellation and not suspension, of the toll.

They also called on the company, LCC, to remove the fence on the road, which they argued had led to the closing down of many businesses on the road.

Thousands of the residents turned up for the rally, wearing T-shirt with inscriptions  “No to fencing, no to toll gate.”

Some of the banners carried by the protesters read “No to toll fee”, “No to LCC toll fraud,” “Lekki road is our property”, “We demand toll cancellation, not suspension,” among others.

Dr. Ausbeth Ajagu, who spoke at the rally, restated the commitment of the group to a total cancellation of the toll fee, saying that Lekki-Epe Expressway was the only project ever embarked upon by Lagos State Government in the area.

He acknowledged the effort of the Governor in his intervention to suspend the collection of the toll, but stressed the need for a total cancellation.

Effect on businesses
Mr. Ayobami Biobaku, representing the business interest in the Lekki-Epe axis, stated that the idea of the toll project had affected businesses adversely as businessmen are now facing serious challenges to break even, mainly because of the negative impact the project has had on businesses in the area.

Adegboruwa on his own part, said that it would amount to double taxation to have three different toll plazas on a single road of about 23 kms.

He said the land constituting the road was acquired originally by the Lagos State government under the regime of Alhaji Kayode Jakande from the indigenes for public use and if it is now to be turned over to LCC for commercial use, the land must first be de-acquired and returned to the original owners,  who would then decide whether or not to partner with LCC.

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