Contrary to claims in the social media that the Lekki Concession Company is all about toll collection, the management has explained that the LCC, which is an initiative of ARM Company Ltd set up to execute Lekki Toll Road Concession Project, has been rendering a lot of services to the facility users at no costs to them.
The Managing Director, Yomi Omomuwasan, said at a press briefing in Lagos last week, that
The motoring public would confirm that LCC provides free day and night towing services, accident and breakdown recovery, emergency services and 24-hourr security patrol on the road.
Omomuwasan said, “Sadly, our youths have also been misled to believe that all that the LCC does is collection of tolls. This, again, is another falsehood being spread around in social media. Daily users of the Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe expressway would testify that LCC provides free 24/7 towing services, accident and breakdown recovery, emergency services and 24-hour security patrol along the express road.
“LCC is solely responsible for the man-power and operational cost of all of these ancillary services at no cost to road users. No road, I repeat, no road in Nigeria today offers such. The Eti-Osa-Lekki-Epe expressway is a world-class road infrastructure of reference in this jurisdiction. It is an example of what the government can achieve for the people by working with the organised private sector. Besides, many may have forgotten how narrow and choking the road was before this new one was built.”
The Managing Director lamented that LCC has been a victim of “active dissemination of fake news cleverly being crafted to misinform and incite our youths to resort to violence,” including the allegation that the toll plaza is a cash cow.
He explained that rather than swimming in cash, the management has been battling with debt burden arising from the total loan balance incurred by LCC for setting the toll plaza, which has been made heavier in the aftermath of the #EndSARS protests.
“The total loan balance incurred by LCC for this project from local lenders stood at N23.9 billion and from the foreign lenders (AFDB), $49.6 million (USD) as of December 31, 2011.”
As of January 31, 2021, the outstanding debt liability from the local lenders is in the region of N11.6 billion and from the foreign lenders $31.1 million (USD), with the difference being the amount LCC has so far paid the lenders. It is important to say that, prior to the #ENDSARS protests, LCC had continued to meet up with servicing its loan obligations without default to the lenders.
“However, since the commencement of the #ENDSARS protests, the forceful takeover of the Admiralty Circle Toll Plaza and the unfortunate incident of Tuesday, October 20, 2020, we have had to plead for moratorium repeatedly with our local and international lenders. It has been impossible to meet our loan repayment obligations- and obligations to our workers- given our inability to collect tolls, the main revenue source from which the repayment was contractually expected to come.
“Again, this explains where the bulk of our earnings goes, contrary to the false claims in the social media that the toll plaza is a cash cow. If we default in payment of these loans, the implications for the business community are too grave to be imagined. Again, this explains where the bulk of our earnings goes, contrary to the false claims on social media that the toll plaza is a cash cow. If we default in payment of these loans, the implications for the business community are too grave to be imagined.”
Omomuwasan explained that Lagos Panel on Brutality and Human Rights Violations never shut the Admiralty Circle Toll Plaza, stating that LCC was only asked to leave the area untouched until the completion of the forensic audit.
He said the plaza was never designated ‘a crime scene” by the panel, as this would have warranted the total stoppage of vehicular movement at that section of the road as against the continued and unhindered vehicular movement on the road since Wednesday, October 21, 2021 till now.
“The ruling merely permits LCC to access the toll plaza in order to evaluate and assess the damage done to the facility and the renovation to be carried out. Nowhere in the world is a company shut down indefinitely over an inquiry into an incident.
“We must bear in mind the fact that as a business, we also have hundreds of workers, who have thousands of dependents, to take care of and monthly financial obligations to honour. Besides, evaluation and restoration require time and further delay can only worsen the situation of the company as a going concern. “
At the press conference, the second in about one week, the Managing Director gave an insight into the ownership status of LCC, which, he said was originally owned, until December 31, 2011, by a number of private sector shareholders, including African Infrastructure Investment Fund (AIIF); Asset and Resources Management Company Ltd (ARM), Larue Projects Company Ltd, and Hi-Tech Construction Ltd.
“However, in December 2014, the Lagos State Government acquired 100 percent shareholding right in the company. The shares were accordingly allotted as 75 percent to the Lagos State Government and 25 percent to the Public Private Partnership (PPP) office. The records are there at the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC), including regular filing of returns and tax obligations.
“To those still agitating that the toll plaza must never return, we believe we have set the records
straight. There are loan obligations to be met. The road needs to be maintained. There are
young Nigerians who earn a living from the Lekki Concession Company. We appeal once again for reason to prevail and peace to reign.”