Many highways in Nigeria will be tolled to pay back loans that were used to build them, the Central Bank of Nigeria has said.
During a two-day retreat of the Bankers’ Committee in Lagos, Godwin Emefiele, CBN Governor, revealed this information to Punch.
For governments, Emefiele says, toll roads may be a reasonable means to raise money and repay CBN loans, but Nigerians who pay for access through these roads will face greater transportation expenses.
Toll roads are common in many other countries, and Nigeria will not be an exception. This is because the projects are commercially viable in many other countries, he explained. “Most of those roads will be tolled,” he added.
Using tolls, the apex bank governor said, the government may be reimbursed so that regular road maintenance is possible for the public to enjoy. In order to maintain the country’s infrastructure, he said, “They can be refunded with tolls so that maintenance can be done regularly; people will pay for it and enjoy good roads, and enjoy good facilities because that is the only way we can fund the infrastructure of this country, which is the large amount of money needed.”
If packaged in the way the Infrastructure Corporation of Nigeria Limited has been established to give local investors confidence in the project, a lot of idle cash in the financial system, according to Emefiele, can be channeled.
It was said by Emefiele that the banking sector was trying to assist the government and the business sector raise funds without putting the Federal Government’s balance sheet at jeopardy. Furthermore, he argued, Nigerian banks and pension fund administrators have vast reserves of naira, so the country doesn’t need to look elsewhere for funding until it has exhausted its local resources.
There is little doubt that the implementation of tolls on the roads in a country where 105 million people live in abject poverty will raise transportation costs.
There are a variety of taxes and levies that Nigerians must pay on a daily basis to the government and transportation unions, and it is believed that these unions will raise their fares if they must pay tolls on highways they use.