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Tolls collected on wrong road

Update: February, 27/2015 - 09:06
This toll station on the highway to Noi Bai Airport is collecting money not for a road it is financing, but for another 30km away. The Ministry of Finance is working on amending a circular to ensure that toll stations are constructed in the correct areas.— VNS Photo Thai Ha

HA NOI (VNS) — It may seem self-evident that a toll station should collect money on the road it's financing. But that isn't what's happening on the highway to Noi Bai Airport.

Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper revealed yesterday in an article that at least one company is incorrectly collecting tolls on a Government-funded road, instead of where it should be – on the privately funded road the fees are financing.

In response to complaints from the public about having to pay fees on the wrong roads, the Ministry of Finance is working on amending a circular to ensure that toll stations are constructed in the correct areas. It would also move toll stations that are too close together further apart and mandate the installation of stations that haven't been set up yet.

Tien Phong mentioned an example in Ha Noi: The toll station on the road running from the southern end of Thang Long Bridge to Noi Bai Airport is collecting fees for a by-pass 30 km away in Vinh Yen in Vinh Phuc Province.

The Ministry of Transport urged the Government several times to remove the Thang Long Bridge-Noi Bai Airport toll station, but the company always objected.

The VND616 billion (US$28.8 million) bypass was constructed by Vietracimex 8 under a contract with the Directorate for Roads of Viet Nam. Vietracimex 8 is entitled to collect tolls for nearly 17 years. It has done so for four years so far, meaning that it will continue for another 12 years.

Nguyen Danh Huy, director of the Ministry of Transport's Board for Public-Private Partnership Projects, said only one station is incorrectly collecting tolls: The Thang Long Bridge-Noi Bai Airport one.

Huy said that in 2011, considering the State budget's constraints, his ministry and other concerned agencies decided to use private investments to build the Vinh Yen bypass. The newly-built road didn't get much use, so the ministry decided to set up the roll station somewhere more profitable. He said the Government hadn't stipulated that toll stations needed to be built on the same road – or that they couldn't be built on Government-funded roads.

"Because the Thang Long Bridge-Noi Bai Airport road is Government-funded, this means the toll station was placed there wrongly and should be removed now," Huy said. "Toll stations on other Government-financed roads have been eliminated. Keeping this toll station intact will make people feel cheated."

He also said that his ministry has more recently stuck to the policy of imposing tolls on the correct road.

"The Minister of Transport has said that collecting tolls outside the project area satisfies businesses, but disappoints people," Huy said. — VNS

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