|Sóc Trăng BOT toll booths. - VNA/VNS Photo Hoài Thu
HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc recently urged the Ministry of Transport to upgrade damaged build-operate-transfer (BOT) expressways as soon as possible to ensure the safety of people and vehicles.
In his demand to the MoT on Tuesday, the PM asked MoT to ensure toll fee collecting activities are executed properly to protect the rights and benefits of investors, people and the State.
Violations and disputes at the toll booths of Cai Lậy in Tiền Giang Province, Tân Đệ in Thái Bình Province and Mỹ Lộc in Nam Định Province need to be addressed.
The MoT is requested to have expressways audited to calculate suitable toll fares and collection times.
Toll collection and calculations of vehicle traffic on BOT expressways have not been well managed and depended mostly on reports by investors, the PM stated.
Irrational toll booth locations also trigger social uproar and cause disputes. He asked the MoT to collaborate with other related agencies and local authorities to re-evaluate these projects and come up with efficient solutions.
Some expressways have come into operation but have not yet started toll collection including National Highway No.1 across Cai Lậy Town in Tiền Giang Province, National Highway No.10 connecting La Uyên and Tân Đệ districts in Thái Bình Province, National Highway No.21 accross Mỹ Lộc District in Nam Định Province and BOT Thái Nguyên – Chợ Mới on National Highway No.3. The MoT was told to find solutions to implement toll collection and ensure security in these areas.
Projects suffering revenue drops compared to initial financial plans need re-evaluation to find solutions. Management of six BOT projects on National Highway No.1 which face high risk of disputes must be tightened.
Early this month, the MoT decided to stop collecting tolls on BOT roads that had quickly fallen into disrepair after opening.
The action taken by transport minister Nguyễn Văn Thể has been applauded by experts and drivers whose money was going straight into the pockets of BOT investors.
Several BOT highways have raised public concern after experiencing problems even in their trial periods.
A section of the Đà Nẵng-Quảng Ngãi Expressway funded by Japan International Co-operation Agency JICA, for example, was opened to traffic in August last year. But after 14 months of operation, cracks and holes have appeared on the road surface.
The damage has caused risks for vehicles travelling at high speeds on the expressway.
The minister has asked the Việt Nam Expressway Corporation (VEC) – the investor – to stop collecting tolls on the road until the damage is repaired.
In mid-2018, the MoT submitted to the Government a list of 17 BOT toll booths built at poor locations.
Among these, only two booths – La Sơn-Túy Loan booth and the booth at the south of the Hải Vân Tunnel – are under consideration to be removed or merged with another toll booth.
The ministry has proposed retaining the location of the other 15 booths. — VNS