|Work being carried out on the road leading to the Long Thanh Bridge in HCM City. The national Road Maintenance Fund has supplied funds to fix 200 roads across the country. — VNA/VNS Photo Hoang Hai
HA NOI (VNS)— The National Road Maintenance Fund disbursed VND7 trillion (US$332 million) last year to fix 200 roads in different parts of the country, the Tin Tuc newspaper has reported.
The report quoted Le Hoang Minh, chief of Secretariat of the fund's Central Council, as saying the disbursement had helped localities nationwide speed up work on degrading roads.
Over VND4.3 trillion ($204 million) was spent on regular road maintenance and management, VND135 billion ($6.4 million) on buying toll collection rights for the Phu Dong Road Toll Station on National Highway 1 from the project investor and VND27.3 billion ($1.3 million) on establishing mobile truck weighing stations.
Out of the nation's 63 provinces and cities, 62 have set up their own road maintenance funds and 47 have councils to manage the funds, the report says.
It cites Nguyen Duc Thang, acting general director of the Viet Nam Road Administration, as saying the fund has eased difficulties typically faced by localities in accessing the capital they need to maintain and upgrade roads.
Until 2012, provinces and cities nationwide had to rely on the State Budget for funds to maintain and manage about 205,000km of roads.
Normally, disbursement from the State Budget met less than 20 per cent of the demand, and it is even lower in remote, mountainous provinces, Thang says.
He says there is no doubt that "the Road Maintenance Fund helped improve transport network, especially in rural areas."
As of January last year there were more than 35 million motorbikes and 1.5 million cars, lorries and buses.
The amount of road maintenance fees that these vehicle owners are required to pay is decided by provincial or municipal People's Committees.
Their decision has to be made within the limits set by the Finance Ministry, under which the annual fees for motorbikes will range from VND50,000-150,000 ($2.3-7.1), and from VND1.5 million ($71) for cars with less than 10 seats to VND12.5 million ($600) for lorries and commercial vehicles of over 27 tonne capacity.
Ngo Huu Dung, transport department director in the central province of Quang Ngai, says in the report that in previous years, the province could only afford VND8-10 billion ($380,000 -476,000 ) each year for maintaining 172km of roads, 70 bridges and 223km of waterways.
"Last year was the first time its funding for road maintenance reached nearly VND20 billion ($952,000)," he says, adding that this has helped the province build five new roads and improve the quality of existing ones.
In a recent meeting held to discuss this year's operations, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang, who chairs the fund's management council, called for "drastic" measures to raise its effectiveness and ensure transparency.
Thang with the National Road Administration said his agency would give priority to the use of advanced equipment and methods as well as new materials to reduce road maintenance costs.
It would also open bids to select competent contractors for road maintenance projects, he said. — VNS