19th December, 2011
In what could be likened to being given a dose of his own medicine, Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State was held up in the gridlock caused by the introduction of toll on the Lekki-Epe expressway yesterday as he made his way to Lekki.
The governor, driving a Range Rover with registration number GR 223 LND was held up for more than thirty minutes in the unprecedented gridlock on the expressway before he got to the toll gate.
Many motorists swore and cursed as they made their way to the gate to pay the controversial toll.
The toll collection was slow and traffic built up on the expressway, stretching to a long distance. Motorists spent hours to get to the Admiralty junction where the toll gate was erected.
Some of them who spoke on the gridlock urged the governor to find urgent solution to the hardship caused road users by the commencement of tolling on the expressway.
Governor Fashola who paid N150 at the gate and flashed his ticket for all to see, said the discomfort was not unexpected.
He appealed to the motorists to see the future and the bigger picture of the toll gate. â€œChange calls for all of us to give up our vested rights and move on. I see a better future, I see a brighter future,â€ the governor assured.
â€œReally, it is the change. Every time we have had to adapt to something new, there is always some discomfort. The day GSM started, there were so many drop-calls that you could not connect. But within a few days, there were feedbacks which made it easy for the operators to rectify the situation and make it better.
â€œWe need feedbacks. What is the problem? Feedbacks will help us and the concessionaire to adapt and respond. We are here to serve, that is our job. Anywhere the shoe pinches you, tell us and leave us to solve it and make it better.â€
The governor also appealed to motorists to use the electronic tag instead of paying cash at the Plaza. He pointed out that the process of paying cash and obtaining change contributed to the delay in the process and the consequent slow movement of vehicles.
â€œYou get a discount for even buying the electronic tag and you get the discount immediately,â€ Governor Fashola said, adding: â€œI am sure we will all be telling a better story in a few weeks time.â€
P.M.NEWS also gathered that the governor had secured the release of several protesters arrested by the police in connection with Saturdayâ€™s protest.
During the protest, organised by Lekki residents to protest the toll, dozens of protesters were brutalised by the police. Many suffered injuries as a result of the teargas fired at them.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba, who reacted to the protest said the exercise of fundamental right of the citizens to protest should not be an excuse for committing violence.
Ibirogba explained that the law enforcement agents had to step in to restore law and order when alleged thugs arrived the scene and fighting broke out.
He expressed regrets that some journalists and media organisations were affected by the subsequent fracas at the scene of the protest. He stated that the Police stepped in to restore law and order, adding that some people were arrested, including a top Peopleâ€™s Democratic Party candidate who contested and lost during the last general elections, a development which showed that the protest itself was politically motivated.
â€”Kazeem Ugbodaga, Paul Iyoghojie