|Sheets of paper stuck on the protestors’ cars and trucks read: “We don’t use the BOT road, why are you forcing us to pay the fee?” — Photo thanhnien.vn|
HÀ TĨNH — A protest against toll collection by local residents at Cầu Rác toll station in Cẩm Xuyên District disrupted traffic for two hours on Sunday.
This comes on the heels of several similar incidents in many localities in the country recently, where people believe there are too many toll stations on the BOT (Build-Operation-Transfer) highways and the fees are too high.
On Sunday morning, people from Cẩm Trung Commune in Cẩm Xuyên District drove around 50 cars and trucks at snail’s speed at a toll station on National Highway 1. Each of the vehicles had banners stuck on them that read: “We don’t use the BOT road, why are you forcing us to pay the fee?”
Protestors argue that the BOT toll station is located at an unreasonable spot. In 2005, Hà Tĩnh-based Sông Đà Infrastructure One Member Ltd Co built a 16-km road to bypass Hà Tĩnh City. The toll station, however, is located at Cầu Rác, which is 30km away from this road.
A truck driver, who took part in the protest, told Thanh Niên (Young People) newspaper that he pays the VNĐ50,000 (US$2.2) fee at least eight times a day. “I mainly transport materials for people in the commune and the neighbourhood. I don’t drive on a single metre of the BOT road,” he said.
It took the commune police and the provincial transport police two hours to persuade the protestors to disperse and restore traffic order.
Phạm Đăng Nhật, chairman of Cẩm Xuyên District People’s Committee, later told Thanh Niên “If local people think the toll collection is unreasonable, they should sign a petition and submit it to the authority. We will arrange a meeting to address the issue.”
Trịnh Xuân Phúc, director of Sông Đà company, said the company had earlier proposed to the Ministry of Transport to cut the toll by half for residents of Cẩm Xuyên, but it had not got any feedback.
Last week, the ministry waived fees for several types of vehicles owned by residents of some localities in Nghệ An and Hà Tĩnh provinces while crossing Bến Thủy 1 toll station, which connects the two provinces.
The move came after repeated protests by local residents at the toll booth since the end of March. — VNS