The controversial Cai Lậy toll station in the Mekong Delta province of Tiền Giang is undergoing work after being closed following protests more than a year ago. – VNA/VNS Photo Nam Thái
TIỀN GIANG — The Ministry of Transport has proposed the Government resume fee collection at the controversial Cai Lậy toll booth in Mekong Delta Tiền Giang Province following a nearly-two year closure in response to protests.
The ministry committed to reducing toll fees by at least half for all types of vehicles. The location of the booth would remain on National Highway No1, it added.
In a document sent to Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hòa Bình, the ministry said the Cai Lậy Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) project had halted the collection of fees for nearly two years, raising concerns over the investor’s capital recovery capability.
On April 9, the State Bank of Việt Nam issued a warning over the ability of restructuring the debt of the project into bad debt. It required the Ministry of Transport to report to the Prime Minister and find solutions to the problems.
The ministry said the resumption of fee collection at the station was necessary to solve the project's financial difficulties and improve faith for investors to invest in BOT projects.
It affirmed that it has implemented the Prime Minister’s direction in coordinating with ministries, branches, localities and the investor of the project to study plans and solutions for the Cai Lậy toll booth for nearly two years.
Three meetings were held between December, 2017 and November, 2018 to discuss solutions for the booth. The final plan, which would maintain the position of the booth and reduce fees for vehicles, was approved by the Government and supported by ministries, branches and localities.
In the document, the ministry said the fee would be reduced for all vehicles passing through the station. For example, the fee for a car would be VNĐ15,000 (US$0.6) instead of VNĐ35,000 ($1.5) as previously.
The rate at the Cai Lậy BOT station would be the lowest on National Highway No1. The scope of fee reduction for vehicles near the station would be the largest compared to toll booths nationwide, covering 41 communes, wards and towns along the highway, it said.
The ministry has worked with the People's Committee of Tiền Giang Province to coordinate with relevant agencies and localities to ensure smooth traffic throughout the project. It has asked the investor to maintain the station and put it into operation.
The BOT Cai Lậy project is located on National Highway No1. It collects fees for a 12km bypass of Cai Lậy Town while some drivers only travel on the highway. Fees range from VNĐ35,000 (US$1.5) to VNĐ180,000 ($7.8), depending on the type of vehicle.
The project started construction in 2014 and was completed in 2017. Fee collection took effect from August 14, 2017, but faced many suspensions as drivers protested high fees and the booth’s inappropriate location. — VNS