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Transport ministry suggests solutions to Cai Lay Tollgate impasse
Le Anh
Monday,  Apr 16, 2018,22:03 (GMT+7)

Transport ministry suggests solutions to Cai Lay Tollgate impasse

Le Anh

Vehicles are seen passing Cai Lay BOT Tollgate without having to pay toll fees following protests by drivers over the location of the tollgate - PHOTO: TRUNG CHANH

HCMC – Five capital recovery plans for the controversial Cai Lay Tollgate in the Mekong Delta of Tien Giang have been forwarded to the Prime Minister for consideration, heard a meeting between the Transport Ministry and Tien Giang authorities last week.

The operator of 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 runs through Cai Lay town in Tien Giang under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) format. The company set up a tollgate on National Highway 1 to recover roughly VND1.7 trillion of investment, but since toll collection started, drivers had staged strong protests, repeatedly paralyzing the tollgate’s operation.

Drivers reason that the investor built the bypass, so it only had the right to collect tolls on those vehicles using this road section. It was unreasonable to charge vehicles running on National Highway 1A, let alone the toll fee was too high, almost the same as the fee for using the 40-km HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway.

Following such protests, the Government ordered the tollgate be suspended, and the Transport Ministry look for solutions.

At the above-mentioned meeting, the ministry floated five options, including fare reductions and tollgate relocation.

In the first solution, the ministry suggested keeping the tollgate at the current site and offering 30% discounts for all kinds of vehicles. The ministry also suggested fare reductions and exemptions for nearby households.

Regarding the second option, the ministry proposed building another tollgate on the bypass alongside the current one on National Highway 1A. Fares of a standard vehicle will be VND15,000 and VND25,000 per trip on the national highway and the bypass respectively.

However, the new tollgate will cost an additional VND90 billion for construction. In addition, road users will likely travel on the national highway due to lower fares, thereby causing traffic jams. Therefore, the plan could have a knock-on effect on other BOT road projects.

The third plan is to keep the location of the tollgate and the current fare of VND25,000 per trip. If chosen, the plan will be financially viable, as it will not tap the State budget. However, it will be faced with public opposition.

The fourth plan is to relocate the tollgate to the bypass. The Government will spend VND1.25 trillion from the State budget to support the investor. Certain types of vehicle will be forced to travel on the bypass, so they will likely object, given higher fares.

The fifth plan is to remove the current tollgate. The Government will make annual payments of about VND2,026 billion (US$88.8 million) to the investor for a period of seven years and seven months.

Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Nhat said the approved plan should be carefully weighed so that it would not affect other BOT projects and the investment environment, especially the execution of the North-South Expressway project.

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