Viet Nam News
ĐỒNG THÁP — Minister of Transport Nguyễn Văn Thể decided to stop the project on expanding part of National Highway No 30, running through the southern provinces of Đồng Tháp and Tiền Giang.
The project was approved in 2015 and was to be implemented under the Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) contract but work was yet to start because of changes in investors and conflicts in relevant regulations.
Vice Chairman of Đồng Tháp Province People’s Committee, Nguyễn Thanh Hùng, told Thể at a meeting on Tuesday that according to the National Assembly Standing Committee (NASC)’s Resolution 437 dated last month, a road project was eligible to be constructed under the BOT contract if the project involved opening a new road and if road users had an alternative one, meaning that road users should have a choice on whether to use the BOT road or not.
However, since the National Highway No 30 is the only existing road, once it is expanded under the BOT contract, people will have to use it. In other words, people will not have a choice but to pay a fee to travel on the road, Hùng said.
Lê Minh Hoan, secretary of the provincial Party Committee, said that with the modest State budget, it was reasonable to have National Highway No 30 expanded under the BOT contract.
The project had been approved in 2015 before the NASC’s resolution took effect, so it could be carried out without going against the National Assembly Standing Committee’s resolution.
Thể said that investors were still preparing procedures and work had not started, so it was the right time to stop the project.
He asked relevant State agencies to negotiate with the project investors to terminate the contract.
“In the long-term, a new road parallel to National Highway No 30 should be opened to reduce traffic pressure on the national highway,” Thể said.
Bids must be floated for the new road project to select experienced, competent investors, he said.
Once the new road is competed, people will have options to choose, which will help prevent public anger. Those who don’t want to pay a fee can go via National Highway No 30. Those who want to travel faster, can choose the new road and pay a fee.
BOT road projects have caused concerns among the public in Việt Nam, especially when road users had to pay high fees, while the quality of the BOT roads failed to meet their expectations. In certain cases, road users had to pay fees even if they did not use BOT roads because toll stations were placed unreasonably. — VNS