HCMC – The Ministry of Transport has proposed the Government spend over VND8 trillion buying four controversial toll stations and then removing them.
These comprise the Bim Son toll station in Thanh Hoa Province, the La Son-Tuy Loan toll station, the National Highway 3 toll station in Thai Nguyen and the National Highway 91 toll station, the local media reported.
The Bim Son toll station was set up to collect fees for a bypass in Thanh Hoa City. The project was opened to traffic in January 2019, but its investor has yet to be permitted to collect toll fees.
Under the permitted initial plan, the project would use the toll station to recoup investment, but the station lies on National Highway 1, some 38 kilometers from the bypass. As such, it is inappropriate for investment recovery in line with the National Assembly Standing Committee’s resolution.
The ministry worked with the province to consider relocating the tollgate to the bypass, but it turned out unfeasible due to several crossroads.
As such, the ministry proposed ending the contract for the toll station and spending some VND920 billion from the State budget to pay the investor.
Besides, the National Highway 3 toll station was built to recoup investment for the Thai Nguyen-Cho Moi route and a project to upgrade a section of the national highway. However, protests from drivers led to the project suspending toll fee collection since 2017.
The investor of the project has been paying some VND16 billion in loans each month. Therefore, the Thai Nguyen government proposed the ministry consider removing the toll station and use some VND3.25 trillion to compensate the investor.
Similarly, at the BOT project to upgrade National Highway 91 in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho, the investor set up two toll stations, T1 and T2, on the national highway. Many drivers opposed the location of tollgate T2, which started toll collection in early 2017, resulting in a suspension of the collection in May 2019.
To address the issue, the ministry removed tollgate T2, while the investor continued to collect fees at station T1 to recoup investment. However, the investor failed to collect fees at the tollgate due to many parallel roads that drivers could use instead of the national highway.
As a result, the ministry sought the Government’s approval to allow terminating the contract and pay the investor some VND1.87 trillion.
As for the fourth tollgate, the Government had earlier allowed the investor to collect fees at the tollgate on the La Son-Tuy Loan expressway in Thua Thien Hue and Danang to recoup investment for the Deo Ca pedestrian tunnel project. However, the National Assembly disallowed the collection as funds for the expressway project were sourced from the State budget.
Delays in toll collection plunged the investor of the tunnel project into difficulties, so the ministry proposed removing the toll station and spending over VND2.28 trillion to compensate its investor.