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Crisis brews at Bwari estate over ‘illegal toll fees’

Aggrieved property owners at Kuchiko Resettlement Development Area (KRDA) popularly called El-Rufai Estate, located in Bwari town, headquarters of Bwari Area Council, are poised for…

Aggrieved property owners at Kuchiko Resettlement Development Area (KRDA) popularly called El-Rufai Estate, located in Bwari town, headquarters of Bwari Area Council, are poised for a showdown with the executives of the estate association over the introduction of what they term ‘illegal toll fees’.

The executives had, after a monthly general meeting of the association held on September 12, issued a statement containing numerous levies “To generate money to fix the road, other infrastructure, and welfare gift without asking members to pay any money for the year.”

Although the statement claimed that the toll levies were approved during the last general meeting, members who were in attendance said the matter was not endorsed by the congress.

Among the levies as contained in another statement tagged ‘Financial Protocol Update’ later issued by the Financial Secretary of the KRDA, made it mandatory for all residents to buy a sticker for N1,000 per car as a condition for driving into the estate.

“All resident car owners have one month grace period to ensure compliance before enforcement”, the statement reads, adding that non-resident car owners visiting the estate would be required to buy a ticket of N100 before driving into the estate.

“Residents are advised to inform their visitors ahead of their visit or buy a ticket and place by the gate before the visit. Members have the privilege of buying tickets for their trucks or visitors ahead of the visit,” the statement seen by Aso Chronicle read in part.

But while many property owners in the estate have described the levies as ‘illegal’ and called on the relevant authorities to wade in, the executives have vowed to go ahead with enforcing them threatening to prosecute “unscrupulous elements” opposed to the levies.

Aso Chronicle gathered that there was a mild drama at the estate’s security post last week when an enforcement committee put in place by the executives attempted collecting N500 levy from a truck supplying sand to a property owner who resisted the move.

A property owner who spoke with Aso Chronicle, who preferred not to be unnamed, described the levies as illegal. He said the executives have a limit in exercising their powers within the estate. “Who made them lords over other landlords in the estate? Have they become revenue collecting agents or are they collecting the levies on behalf of government,” he questioned.

“I have not seen or heard of any estate in Abuja where visitors are asked to pay toll at point of entry. Moreover, schools are resuming soon; are they implying that school buses coming to pick our school children would be paying the toll fees at the gate on daily basis?” another resident questioned.

Another resident of the estate commenting on the levy imposed on visitors said: “Assuming I have an event/ceremony and I am expecting visitors in large numbers what happens. And for my relatives and friends to pay at the gate; is it a commercial gate or residential?”

Also commenting, a plot owner who is yet to fully develop his land queried the levy imposed on truck owners saying: “For those of us who are yet to finish our building is it not going to be an added burden as trucks bringing in materials will transfer the toll on us? This will discourage plot owners from coming to develop this place.”

Aso Chronicle learnt that following the disagreement generated on the matter, the financial secretary issued another statement saying the executives had suspended the toll fees on visitors’ cars.

However, the secretary of the KRDA issued another statement on its WhatsApp group threatening to prosecute those he called ‘unscrupulous elements’ that were inciting members to disobey the leadership of the association.

“Take note that KRDA (Kuchiko Resettlement Development Area) is in liaison with relevant security agencies monitoring the activities of these elements and they shall be prosecuted in accordance with the penal code.”

When contacted, an official of the Federal Capital Development Authority (FCDA), the agency that oversees the estate, described the proposed toll fees as illegal, saying the estate executives were overstepping their limits.

The official, who wished to remain unnamed because he was not officially mandated to speak, said the FCDA would soon come up with an official position on the matter.