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PM orders one-month suspension of Cai Lay tollgate’s operation

The Saigon Times Daily
Tuesday,  Dec 5,2017,23:44 (GMT+7)
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PM orders one-month suspension of Cai Lay tollgate’s operation

The Saigon Times Daily

Fee collectors leave their booths at Cai Lay toll plaza late on December 4 afternoon as automobiles are allowed to pass free - PHOTO: VNA

HCMC - Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc decided on December 4 to suspend Cai Lay toll station on National Highway 1 in Tien Giang Province for one month given strong protests by drivers.

The Government leader assigned the Ministry of Transport to reassess the entire project, Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung told local media on December 4.

The PM on December 4 called an emergency meeting with the Ministry of Transport, Tien Giang Province, and other relevant ministries to find ways to cope with the driver protests.

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 town in Tien Giang.

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

Speaking at the meeting on December 4, the PM said investors are encouraged to develop infrastructure projects in the build-operate-transfer (BOT) format as this way has helped mobilize huge capital from the private sector to improve infrastructure. However, shortcomings and violations in the process of implementing BOT projects must be strictly handled to ensure the rights and interests of road users, he said.

During the one-month stoppage of Cai Lay tollgate, the Ministry of Transport will have to work with Tien Giang Province to find a coping solution.

Drivers asked why they were forced to pay fees for the bypass they never used and 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 make annual contributions.

Given the use of banknotes of small denomination to pay toll fees, which caused severe traffic congestion, the investor decided in August to stop collecting fees and restarted toll collection on November 30.

Even though fees were cut about 30% across the board this time around, drivers have still protested by using banknotes of small value to pay fees and thus lengthening the payment time, hence long queues behind them.

On the morning of December 4 , the operator of the tollgate let vehicles pass at no charge to deal with heavy traffic congestion five to seven times. According to the Vietnam News Agency, since it was reopened late last month, the toll station has been opened for free passage around 30 times.

On the first days of resuming toll collection, Tien Giang Province sent police to the station area to ensure security and order. The investor even set up a separate lane for drivers who pay fees using banknotes of small denomination.

Pham Anh Tan, vice chairman of Tien Giang Province, told local media that problems at Cai Lay toll station had got out of the provincial government’s control. Therefore, the province had sent an urgent report to the Government asking for a solution.

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