|Vehicles pass through a toll station on the National Highway 1 section that crosses Quang Binh Province. Transport enterprises were frustrated at the high density of toll booths set up on national highways. — VNA/VNS Photo Manh Thanh.
HA NOI (VNS) — Transport enterprises have expressed their concerns over the number of toll booths set up on national highways constructed under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model.
A representative of Huyen Binh Passenger Transport Company based in Ha Noi's Giap Bat Bus Station told Tin Tuc (News) that the company had to pay road fees of VND390,000 (roughly US$18) per vehicle each month.
When investors of the Phap Van-Cau Gie Expressway were permitted to set up more toll stations on the highway, transport businesses would be burdened with more fees, he said.
"On a 120km-journey from Ha Noi to Thai Binh Province, a passenger bus has to pay tolls at four stations", he said.
According to the Ministry of Transport (MoT), 96 toll booths were currently stationed on BOT highways nationwide, 45 of which had been opened and the other 51 would be completed by 2018.
Among the 96 stations, 83 are contracts between the ministry and BOT investors, while the other 13 are between provincial authorities and investors.
At present, on the Phap Van-Cau Gie Expressway, the Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway and National Highway 1, there are toll stations every 40-50km, while the Ministry of Finance regulates the distance between stations to be at least 70km.
Explaining the situation, Do Van Quoc, head of the MoT's Finance Department, said transport projects include the construction of tunnels, bridges and roads crossing residential areas, so complying with the regulations on the distance between toll stations was sometimes impossible, Quoc said.
When evaluating BOT projects, the ministry chose investment plans which that worked in harmony between the Government, investors and people.
If the distance between stations was less than 70m, the MoT applied for permission to provincial People's Committees and the Ministry of Finance, Quoc said.
Before building a toll station, the MoT had to ask for approval from the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Planning and Investment, as well as provincial People's committees, said Transport Minister Dinh La Thang.
The MoT is currently mapping out a master plan of highway toll booths nationwide.
However, president of the Viet Nam Car Transport Association Nguyen Van Thanh said that the transport ministry should not allocate the work to BOT investors.
The ministry should supervise all stages of projects including investment refund plans, said Thanh.
Tolls on BOT highways were two or three times higher than on other highways so transport businesses had asked the ministry to review the current road fees, he said.
The ministry should make toll collections transparent and adjust the time for collecting tolls based on the actual number of vehicles paying tolls, he said.
Nguyen Thanh Phong, head of the Transport Development and Strategy Institute, said the ministry should review the operation of toll stations every year to ensure interests of both investors and road users.
Investment sourced from different sectors was the most effective way of developing infrastructure given the modest State Budget, but transparency was necessary to alleviate public concerns, said Phong. — VNS