Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The Ministry of Transport has asked the investor of Hòa Lạc-Hòa Bình Expressway not to arbitrarily stop vehicles during maintenance work without its approval.
“Investors have been instructed to complete procedures to meet the conditions for fee collections at toll booths on the expressway,” said Nguyễn Văn Công, deputy Minister of Transport.
The Defence Ministry’s Corporation No. 36 (the project’s investor) previously announced that it would suspend services for vehicles travelling on the expressway from April 15.
The reason for the suspension was that in accordance with the signed BOT contract, the expressway should have been put into operation in October last year and start collecting tolls from November. However, toll collections are yet to start.
After the expressway opened to traffic, many drivers chose to avoid paying fees on the Xuân Mai-Hòa Bình route (National Highway No.6), said Trần Văn Phòng, chairman of the board of National Highway 6 and Hòa Lạc-Hòa Bình BOT Co. Ltd.
“Due to the five-month delay in collecting tolls, the Saigon-Hanoi Commercial Bank has suspended disbursement of capital for the project. As a result, there is not enough funding for management, operation and maintenance,” he said.
A representative from the Public Private Partnership Department under the Ministry of Transport said the investors of National Highway 6 and the Hòa Lạc-Hòa Bình Expressway had not fulfilled their commitments so were not allowed to collect fees.
Specifically, Hòa Bình Province had approved additional compensation for four households amounting to VNĐ7.8 billion (US$336,140). Although authorities have repeatedly asked the investor to pay the households, it had failed to do so.
At a meeting with local authorities on March 22, Minister of Transport Nguyễn Văn Thể also asked investors to pay the households and start collecting tolls.
The Hòa Lạc-Hòa Bình Expressway had a total investment of nearly VNĐ3 trillion ($131.2 million). The investors planned to recover the capital by collecting tolls in Hòa Bình for 27 years. The project has two sections: the 25.7km Hòa Lạc-Hòa Bình stretch and upgrade work to 30.6km of the Xuân Mai-Hòa Bình section.
The new route shortens the travel time between Hà Nội and Hòa Bình by about 20km and from over two hours to one and a half hours compared to National Highway 6. — VNS