The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State to immediately reverse the increase in Lekki toll gate charges.
SERAP’s Executive Director, Mr Adetokunbo Mumuni, made the request in a statement on Sunday.
“The authorities should respect and protect the right of protesters to demonstrate against the hike in toll charges and to voice their opinion,” Mumuni said.
“It’s time for Ambode to ensure and maintain a balance between the needs of the citizens and residents of Lagos State and the Lekki Concession Company.”
The group is of the view that the state government, as a custodian of trust, should take the interest of the people into account and review the activities of the Lekki Concession Company.
It believes the government is further obligated to prevent unnecessary and unjustified harm to the public trust and interests.
“It seems the agreement between the Lagos State government and the Lekki Concession Company is no longer serving the needs of citizens and residents,” SERAP said.
The decision of the Lekki Concession Company to increase the toll charges has been widely criticised by motorists and residents.
Based on the increase, at the Admiralty Circle Plaza (Lekki-Epe expressway), cars now pay N200 as against N120; sports utility vehicles (SUV) now pay N250 from N150; commercial buses now pay N150 from N80, while motorcycles now pay N100.
At the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge, saloon cars now pay N300 from N250; sports utility vehicles (SUV), minivans, and light trucks now pay N400 from N300. Motorcycles will now pay N200.
On Friday morning, many of those angered by the increase held a protest in the area, calling for its reversal of the hike which came into effect on February 1.
The protesters converged on Admiralty Way, and expressed their displeasure through chants and with placards, rejecting the move.
The protest nearly degenerated into chaos when hoodlums attacked journalists covering it, but police personnel intervened arresting some of the attackers.
The Lekki Concession Company has attributed the increase to “current business realities and increasing the cost of operation”.
SERAP, however, countered that position, pointing out the “rising poverty and economic inequalities in the country”.
Instead of allowing the Lekki Concession Company to increase the toll charges, the group expects the Lagos State Government to consider eliminating toll charges.
“Unless the situation is satisfactorily resolved in the public interests, the government runs the risk of being viewed as beholden to special interests and out of touch with the public good,” it said.
“States contravene their human rights obligations when they fail to take appropriate measures or to exercise due diligence to prevent, punish, investigate or redress the harm caused by acts by private persons or entities.”