Some aggrieved residents of Lekki and Ajah in Lagos took to the streets Friday to protest the recent hike in toll charges at the Lekki-Epe Expressway and Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge toll gates.
The protest, which was convened under the banner of Eti-Osa Development Forum, started around 9 am with the protesters gathering at the Lekki Penninsula Scheme 1 gate.
The protesters demanded that the Lagos State Government stop the operation of the Lekki Concession Company, operators of the tolls and show the financial statements of the company since the concession was bought by the state government.
Although the police initially prevented the protesters from marching on the streets, the commander who led the security operatives later softened his stance after an agreement was reached with the conveners that the procession will be peaceful and not get to the two toll gates.
A fracas, however, broke out some minutes after the procession took off. About eight thugs, allegedly hired by the Lekki Concession Company, appeared from the shadows and started demanding an end to the protest. When the protesters resisted, the thugs started shoving them about and in the ensuing drama smashed the phone out of the hands of a female BBC reporter and damaged the camera of Channels TV crew.
Unperturbed by the actions of the thugs, the protesters raised their voices and demanded immediate action from the police before the situation degenerated. To prevent the confrontation from getting out of hand, the police swung into action, arrested the thugs, led them away and dumped them inside a Black Maria vehicle stationed nearby.
The protest thereafter continued along the Admiralty Way and terminated at the Lekki Phase 1 Roundabout, causing slow movement of traffic while the conveners addressed the crowd.
Addressing the crowd after the procession ended at the Lekki Phase 1 roundabout, the convener, Barrister Dotun Hassan, said that the protest was called to demand for an end to tolling on the two roads.
“The Lagos State government claims it has bought back the concession contract, so why are citizens being made to pay toll on the roads?,” Hassan queried.
“What we are demanding today is an end to tolling on these roads. We didn’t vote for LCC, we voted for Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and we call on him to act now. We want to see the books. We want to see the financial statements of LCC.”
On whether the protest achieved its intended goal, the convener disclosed that it was one in a series of protest planned to demand an end to tolling on the Lekki-Epe Expressway and Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge.
LCC on February 1, increased toll tariffs. Under the new review, commercial transport buses and motorcycles plying the Lekki-Ajah axis will now pay N100 instead of N80 they paid previously. Those with e-tag will pay N90.
Saloon cars and tricycles will now pay N200 from N120 but N180 with e-tag; SUVs, mini-vans, light pick-up trucks will pay N400 and N360 with e-tag; non-commercial buses with maximum capacity of 26 seats, N1000 and N900 with e-tag; and motorcycles with 200cc capacity and above will pay N200 and N180 with e-tag.
The Lagos state government terminated the concession in 2013 but details of the agreement and termination remain shrouded in secrecy.