The many residents of Lekki, under the aegis of Lekki Peninsula Phase 1 Residents Association, have written the governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to suspend the planned resumption of toll at the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge and the Lekki-Epe Expressway, The PUNCH reports.
In an open letter to the governor on Tuesday, signed by the Chairman of the association, Yomi Idowu, the residents raised socio-economic reasons and other critical issues that were yet to be addressed which made the decision to recommence tolling unjust, oppressive, and illegal.
“According to the Central Bank of Nigeria / National Bureau of Statistics, unemployment is at 33% while youth unemployment is at a staggering 42.5%; and when you add youth under-employment, you have 63.5% of youth either unemployed or underemployed. Also, Consumer Price inflation is currently at 15.70% resulting in increasing cost of food compounded by increased cost of electricity, fuel, and diesel prices. In addition to all of this, the Academic Staff Union of Universities is on strike, meaning students are at home, with other unions threatening to go on strike.
“We view with deep concern and trepidation the less than transparent attempt at recommencing tolling activities at the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, even as matters relating to the #EndSARS protest, which led to the termination of tolling activities in the first place, remain largely unresolved. The issue is compounded by the myriad of issues bedeviling the rationale to toll at this location.
“It is against this backdrop that the Lekki Phase 1 Residents Association (LERA) implores the Lagos State Government (LASG) to apply wisdom and shelve its plans to resume toll collection on the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge,” the letter read in part.
LERA further argued that there were issues of pending court matter; ownership questions and lack of transparency; underdevelopment of the Lekki-Epe corridor; and justice for #ENDSARS victims, that were yet to be addressed by the government, making the recommencing of the toll illegal.
On the pending court matter, LERA argued that “the Lekki Concession Company Limited (LCC) and LASG have continued to use the instrumentality of the law courts to foist hardship on our community. We recall that the Federal High Court in Lagos had in the recent past effectively declared the tolling of the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge as illegal and unconstitutional. LASG characteristically secured an order of stay of execution on the ground that it had appealed the court’s decision but has so far failed to prosecute the subject appeal.
“With this Sword of Damocles hanging over our community, one expected LASG to pursue the best interest of its citizenry rather than use the machinery of the state against law-abiding citizens.
On justice for #ENDSARS victims, the residents said that the the report of the panel had been submitted, and a White Paper was produced, adding that, however, the Lagos government had not engaged Lagosians on the recommendations nor made concrete plans to deal with the underlying factors that led to the protests.
“Rather than work to seek peace, the State is actively working through LCC to inflict more suffering and hardship on its citizens. It is within this context that we understand that protests are being planned under the banner #NoJusticeNoToll. If the protests happen, the residents and businesses in Lekki will be the most affected, LERA said.
The letter concluded by urging the governor to act in exercising maximum restraints and to immediately suspend the planned resumption of tolling at the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge.
“Your Excellency, we feel it is expedient to bring all the above to your attention and to particularly note that the general mood of the people suggests that LCC should refrain from collecting tolls at the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge and the Lekki-Epe Expressway until these fundamental issues are addressed. To do otherwise will be to needlessly stoke the tension which pervades the nation.
“We urge Your Excellency to act to exercise maximum restraints at this point and to immediately suspend this planned resumption of tolling at the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge in the overriding interest of peace and order in our community,” the residents said.