Vietnam’s transport authorities are calculating traffic volume at a controversial tollgate in the Mekong Delta as they try to find a viable solution following repeated outcries from road users.
Nguyen Van Huyen, head of the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam, said that his agency has been counting vehicles at the BOT tollgate in Cai Lay Town, Tien Giang Province.
The developer of a BOT road project to upgrade a section of National Highway 1 and build a detour across Cai Lay Town is currently operating the facility.
Controversially, the toll station has been placed on the existing highway instead of on the new route, which means that a fee is being collected regardless of the road used by drivers.
Commuters have voiced their outrage over being slugged with an additional charge that they say should be covered with a regular road maintenance fee they pay annually.
Since the opening of the station in August, drivers have expressed their displeasure by paying the fee in small denomination banknotes along with several other tactics, causing major traffic delays that have ultimately led to repeated cessations of the tollgate's operation.
The toll was previously lowered, but this still did not prove effective.
On November 4, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered the operator of the tollgate to stop collecting fees from motorists for one month to review the situation.
According to Huyen, the Directorate for Roads will calculate traffic volume on both the detour and the upgraded section of National Highway 1 between December 8 and 16, before an appropriate solution is found.
Following a recent meeting, three possible fixes were highlighted.
The first focuses on maintaining the status quo at the facility and ensuring the collection of service charges, with other measures to be enforced if necessary.
The second solution involves building an additional tollgate on the detour, with fees still collected on both routes.
The third one suggests relocating the station to the detour, with the toll only required for traveling on that specific route. The state would then pay the developer the cost of the highway upgrade.
The Ministry of Transport has asked the road directorate to report on its survey and suggest a solution by December 17.