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Friday,  Dec 15,2017,22:58 (GMT+7)

PM orders report on Cai Lay and other BOT infrastructure projects

Lan Nhi and Trung Chanh
Monday,  Dec 4,2017,23:43 (GMT+7)
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PM orders report on Cai Lay and other BOT infrastructure projects

Lan Nhi and Trung Chanh

A car is parked right at the Cai Lay tollgate on December 3, leading to a heavy traffic jam on National Highway 1. Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered Transport Minister Nguyen Van The to make a comprehensive report on build-operate-transfer (BOT) traffic infrastructure projects, especially the highly controversial Cai Lay bypass tollgate - PHOTO: VNA

HANOI, TIEN GIANG – Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has ordered Transport Minister Nguyen Van The to make a comprehensive report on build-operate-transfer (BOT) traffic infrastructure projects, especially the highly controversial Cai Lay bypass tollgate situated on National Highway 1 in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang.

The order was given at a regular cabinet meeting last week amid strong driver protests against the Cai Lay toll plaza which protestors said should have been located on the bypass rather than National Highway 1.

The operator of the Cai Lay tollgate – National Highway No.1 Tien Giang Investment Co Ltd – built a 12-kilometer road bypassing Cai Lay Town, and gave a facelift to a 26.5-kilometer section of National Highway 1 which passes through Cai Lay.

The company erected a tollgate on National Highway 1 to recover roughly VND1.7 trillion spent on the bypass construction and the National Highway 1 facelift. Since the tollgate started collecting fees, drivers have protested by using banknotes of small denomination to pay fees to force the investor to relocate the tollgate.

Drivers reasoned the investor of the bypass only had the right to collect fees from those vehicles using the newly built road and that there was good reason to charge vehicles using an existing road like National Highway 1. The investor spent a small sum upgrading the 26.5-kilometer section of the highway.

They also asked why the re-asphalting of the national highway was funded by a privately held company rather than the national road maintenance fund to which they contribute annually. Their strong objections led to a three-month-and-a-half closure of the tollgate until late October.

The tollgate has resumed operation since November 30, with toll rates lowered as instructed by the Ministry of Transport. Specifically, the lowest fee per time is now VND25,000 for a standard vehicle, and the highest is VND140,000, dropping by VND10,000-40,000 against the original levels which were charged when the tollgate went into operation on August 1.

In addition to the toll reductions, the ministry decided to exempt and lower tolls for vehicle owners residing in Phu Nhuan, My Thanh Nam, Binh Phu and Phu An communes of Cai Lay District.

But drivers said the fee cuts would not work as the duration of toll collection would be lengthened to allow the investor to collect enough investment capital plus a profit margin. From the time the tollgate restarted toll collection on the morning of November 30 to December 3, the operator let automobiles pass the tollgate free more than 10 times as driver protests caused heavy traffic congestion.

PM Phuc at the cabinet meeting demanded an end to the chaos at the Cai Lay tollgate and told the Transport Minister to make a comprehensive report on BOT projects, especially Cai Lay.

Three economic priorities for 2018

Also at the meeting, the Government leader stressed three economic priorities for 2018, according to the Government news website.

In particular, the Government pledges to further stabilize the macro-economy, create strategic breakthroughs, restructure the economy, renovate the growth model, improve productivity, quality, effectiveness, and competitiveness, as well as encourage innovations and entrepreneurial spirit.

He called for stronger administrative reform, and improvement in law enforcement and management at all levels.

The Government was committed to further fighting corruption, wastefulness and interest groups; bolstering cultural and social growth; improving social progress and justice, and living standards; protecting the environment and coping with climate change; as well as strengthening national defense and security, and raising the efficiency of international integration.

He asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to map out a draft resolution guiding the implementation of the 2018 socio-economic growth plan, which must be available prior to December 12.

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