|The Cai Lậy toll station in the Mekong Delta province of Tiền Giang. VNS File Photo.|
HCM CITY - The Cai Lậy toll station in the Mekong Delta province of Tiền Giang is scheduled to reopen in March after a year’s closure due to drivers’ protests.
Officials from the National Highway No 1 Tiền Giang Investment Co. Ltd told a press meeting on Monday that the company, which had built the road, had suffered severe losses as a result of the closure.
Tiền Giang Province authorities said the police would be responsible for the safety of the toll station after it opens.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyễn Nhật said the cost of the Cai Lậy Road, built under build-operate-transfer (BOT) mode, was over VNĐ1.39 trillion (over US$60 million ).
In the past few years relevant authorities had proposed measures to resolve the conflicts and reopen the toll station.
The Ministry of Transport and the road builder had agreed to retain the toll station at the old location and waive or reduce toll for vehicles belonging to locals living within 10km, he said.
Phạm Văn Cường, deputy director of the company, said toll would be waived for personal cars from areas around the station while for commercial vehicles it would be reduced by 20-30 per cent.
Cường said in the one year the toll collection had been suspended, the company had suffered losses of around VNĐ130 billion.
His company had been helpless in the face of residents’ protests, he said.
But since it had invested a large amount of money in the project it would like to see it profitable, he said.
Phạm Anh Tuấn, deputy chairman of the Tiền Giang Province People’s Committee, said provincial authorities and the company had identified all the cars in the area eligible for toll waiver and reduction.
The VNĐ1.39 trillion cost included over VNĐ1 trillion for the 12km Cai Lậy Town bypass and VNĐ300 billion for repairs to a 26.5km section of the National Highway.
After construction was completed and the road opened to traffic, in August 2017 the toll station became operational.
However, right on the first day it faced protests from drivers and had to allow cars to pass without paying the toll.
On 16 August the toll was reduced to VNĐ25,000 - VNĐ160,000 per trip, but the protests continued. Many drivers paid the toll using small notes just to hold up traffic.
The toll collection was first suspended for three months before authorities decided in early December to stop the collection. —VNS.