The government’s report to the National Assembly on October 5 updated the issues with problematic BOT toll stations that the public has complained about.

BOT projects,toll station,FDI

To date, the problems at 15 out of 19 toll stations have been settled, and traffic safety and public order have been stabilized. Meanwhile, the problems of the other four stations have not been settled because of special conditions.

Bim Son Station which collects fee for the bypass in the western part of Thanh Hoa City, is one of them. The station is located outside the project. If fees continue to be collected, this may cause risks in public order and traffic safety.

Implementing the government’s conclusions released on June 26, 2019, the Directorate for Roads joined forces with authorities of Thanh Hoa province and investors to consider a plan to relocate the station to the western bypass.

However, since there are three parallel lines (Highway 1 which goes through Thanh Hoa City, eastern bypass and western bypass) and there are many intersections on the route, vehicles can avoid the station. Therefore, the existence of a toll station on the western bypass won’t help to collect fees to recover the investment capital for the BOT project.

The solution under consideration now is using the state’s money to pay the investors.

The toll station on Highway No 3 which collects fee for the BOT project on building Thai Nguyen – Cho Moi Road and upgrading the Highway No 3 (Km 75 – Km 100) is in the same situation.

A government report shows that problems still exist at four BOT (build, operate, transfer) toll stations. Because of their special properties, it has been difficult to maintain their operations.

The Ministry of Transport (MOT), after working sessions with the Thai Nguyen provincial authorities, have agreed on reducing the fee and made public the reductions.

However, according to the Thai Nguyen People’s Committee, many people have disagreed, gathering at the toll station and the province’s Citizen Reception, requesting to remove the station and asking for a dialogue with agencies.

As instructed by the Prime Minister, MOT and the provincial authorities worked on a solution to ensure the public order security and traffic safety before allowing the investors to collect fees at the Highway No 3 station in accordance with the fee reduction plan.

However, the local authorities warned that some problems in security may arise.

 

“If the situation becomes too complicated, the ministry will stop collecting fees and ask the Prime Minister to arrange state money to pay the investors and remove the toll collection on Highway 3,” the report said.

As for T2 Station, which collects fee for the BOT project on upgrading Highways 91 and 91B, the report said MOT and relevant agencies, after considering the public order and security, have agreed that it would be better not to continue to collect the fee at T2.

They will report to appropriate agencies and ask for allocation from the state budget to support the investments for Highway 91B, and assign the Can Tho City People’s Committee to take over, manage and maintain the highway.

Regarding the La Son – Tuy Loan Station, the Ministry of Finance has proposed not to use the station to collect fee to recover the investment capital of the project, but use the state budget.

The viewpoint of MOT and the Ministry of Justice is that the fee collection of La Son – Tuy Loan Station is not covered by the Law on Management and use of public property, so the fee collection should be allowed to continue.

Financial plans

The report also pointed out that difficulties in handling the problems at these stations have led to decreases in the projects’ revenue.

Experts have warned that if the problems cannot be solved, financial plans will be upset, and bad debts will increase, thus affecting the nation’s monetary management policy and the investment environment and putting pressure on the state budget.

Regarding the road service fee remissions, the government’s report pointed out that fee exemption and reductions have been proposed for 100 percent of the BOT projects put under the management of MOT.

Under the contracts signed with the investors, the prices will be adjusted once every three years and the fee will increase by 18 percent for every adjustment after getting approval from state agencies.

The fee increase is due for 49 projects. However, the government has instructed not to raise the fees now. So, many financial plans will be "broken" if the price adjustment is delayed to 2022. 

Vu Diep

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