The Lekki-Epe Expressway holds the distinction of being the only one of its kind as a private toll road in West Africa and it is significant to the economy of the state and city of Lagos for many reasons. For one thing, it opens up into the fastest growing corridor of the city-the Lekki peninsula. The corridor is home to some of the most ambitious projects that the state government has ever undertaken by itself.
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There is a new airport in the Epe end of things. The Lekki Free Trade Zone that will house the soon-to-be-finished private refinery by Dangote and a deep seaport is already in operation although with limited functionalities. The expressway is the gateway to some of the choicest/affordable properties too. Such properties dominate the sightline for most of the 50km span.
That said, the manner in which the road has been in nearly a decade leads one to wonder if the government is even committed to a project it kick-started three administrations ago.
Before the road became what we see today, there was an arterial road linking Lagos to Epe through the Lekki peninsula along the route commensurate with the present-day road. The road was built during Lateef Jakande’s administration (1979-1983). Plans were unveiled to develop the whole of the Lekki peninsula as a city scheme. In the time, since, it would seem that those plans have not been in view anymore as only certain aspects of it are even being worked on. One of which is the ‘Lekki Phase 1’ and of course, the express.
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The Lekki Epe Toll Road as we know it today was completed in late 2011. The project took all of five years to finish. The project itself was said to be a private-public partnership (PPP) initiative between the Lagos State Government and the Lekki Concession Company (LCC).
The LCC was to build, operate and transfer the asset (road) over thirty years. According to allafrica.com,
“The Lekki Concession Company Limited (“LCC”), is entrusted with management, upgrading, expansion and maintenance of the approximately 50 km of this pioneering project (Phase I) under a 30-year Concession Agreement. It is also leading to the construction of approximately 20 km of the Coastal Road (Phase II) on the Lekki Peninsula”.
Today, it would seem the relationship between the Lagos State government and the company, however, has been a rather controversial one and has raised eyebrows in many circles time and again. The company is in fact set up by the state government as a special purpose vehicle solely for the purpose of the road and its toll gates –there are three but only two have been operational since 2015.
While the so-called PPP agreement was still in place, the state government turned around to re-acquire the concession. The decision, it posited, was taken for the sake of the public good and to keep the company from increasing toll in line with inflation and exchange rate fluctuations.
So in effect, the state government has hinted that it has, in fact, been subsidizing the toll for the public good. It has, however, gone on to increase the toll as recently as one year ago and that was not even the first time.
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