By Bose Adelaja
Despite the clampdown on street protests, residents of Lekki Peninsula penultimate weekend trooped out to protest what they called imposition of tolls on the Eti-Osa -Lekki express way and the hike in the school fess of Lagos State University, LASU by the State Government.
But unlike the December 17 protest against collection of tolls on the ever-busy road, Saturday’s peaceful protest which took place at Lekki Phase 1 and terminated at Admiralty Way Roundabout, was poorly attended.
Although there were dozens of armed soldiers and policemen stationed at the roundabout, Mr. Ebun Adegboruwa who led the protest arrived the roundabout as early as 7a.m and was joined later by the protesters.
The protesters who mounted their generator and musical instruments right in front of the soldiers and policemen, later distributed handbills which called on all motorists to reject the toll fee.
The rally finally commenced at about 9:30 a.m, when Mr. Adegboruwa addressed the gathering. Although the Area Commander in charge of Ajah Police station was around, residents insisted that law enforcement agents can not prevent them from expressing their grievances over imposition of the tolls on the road.
Rejection of toll fee and LASU fees
Passersby and motorists applauded the protesters with some even joining them in the protest. The leaders later took turns to address the crowd, urging the people to reject the toll fee and the increase in LASU school fees.
Some of the protesters told VM that the concessionaire, Messrs Lekki Concessionaire Company Limited, LCC can recoup its investment on the road within a period of three years, ‘’By our calculation, LCC can recover its expenses within three years, this means we shall be under slavery for a period of 27 years.
After all, democracy is all about the people, for the people and by the people, so why must a group of privileged politicians impose the punishment on the masses because of their selfish interests. We shall continue to protest until our demands are met,’’ Mr. Olu Fatade and Mrs. Idowu Aare said.
A student Razak Lawal told VM he had to participate in the protest because he was not sure of returning to school after the ongoing strike by ASUU. ‘’You see, my parents can no longer afford the school fee. I lost my father about two years ago and my mother’s stipend cannot cater for all of us. She was thinking of how to cope with our school fee and here comes the high tools on this road. I don’t know what to do o…,’’ she said.
Mr. Adegboruwa told VM that the government has the responsibility to provide infrastructural facilities for its people, ‘’It is the responsibility of government to provide infrastructure for the people, especially in the area of road construction.
If government decides to evade its responsibility and transfer infrastructure development to the private sector only, then the people are in for difficult times of extortion and oppression. All over Lagos State, good and durable roads are being built for the use of the people free of any extra tax,’’ he noted.
While commending the effort of Governor Babatunde Fashola to transform the state, he however stated that adequate provision should be made to make life meaningful to Lekki/Epe residents, ‘’ We commend the Fashola administration for the gallant efforts made at transforming Lagos State into a mega city.
“All that we crave for in the Lekki-Epe axis is that these lofty developments be extended to us as is being done to other parts of Lagos State. Presently, there is no road that is being tolled in the State, so why is the government discriminating against the people living in the Lekki-Epe axis by taxing us to use the only access road in the area. Businesses have gradually collapsed since the introduction of tolling,’’ Adegboruwa said.
Many questions, no answers
Continuing he said: ‘’The questions that we have been asking to which we have not received any positive answer are as follows: What exactly is the project about? Who are the financiers? Who are the owners and promoters of Lekki Concession Company?
How did the government and LCC arrive at the prices they have fixed as toll? How much is the cost of the project, that would require a whooping 30 years to recoup? Is it about profit or profiteering? What about the alternative route? What happened to the Coastal road?
Why three toll gates in less than 23 kilometres? We cannot get any answer to these vital questions from the appropriate quarters, other than speculations and conjectures. This should not be the case,’’ he added.