If the proposal is approved, three State-invested expressways (Mai Sơn-National Highway 45, Vinh Hao-Phan Thiet, Phan Thiet-Dau Giay belonged to North-South Expressway) which started construction on September 30 would collect tolls of VND1,500-2,000 (US$0.06-0.08) per kilometre once they go into operation in 2023, said Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong.
The ministries are studying tolls on six North-South expressways with State budget investment, and will submit a plan to the Government and the National Assembly Standing Committee for approval.
Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong said tolls on State-funded expressways had caused public controversies in many countries. In the UK, drivers are not charged, but in Japan tolls are collected on all State-owned expressways.
The Road Traffic Law of Vietnam states that drivers do not have to pay tolls on State-funded expressways. They just need to pay road maintenance fees at automobile register centres.
However, the limited State budget meant there was only investment available for national highways, and extra funding was needed to invest in high-quality expressways. Expressway tolls would be used to build other roads, the deputy minister said.
Expressways were safe and convenient so drivers should pay fees. Otherwise they could use free roads like National Highway 1 and Ho Chi Minh Road, he said.
The Vietnam Road Administration has proposed collecting ‘lifelong’ expressway tolls to build a budget to develop a synchronised nationwide transport network.
It means expressways constructed under the Build-Operate-Transfer model, after being transferred to the State, would continue to collect tolls which would be used for road management, maintenance and new road construction.
Some State-funded expressways like HCMC-Trung Luong and Ha Noi-Thai Nguyen are already collecting tolls but still lack funding for maintenance work, resulting in downgraded roads.
A representative from the Vietnam Road Administration said different types of tolls collected on these roads would not overlap. Road maintenance fees would be used to repair and upgrade national highways, and provincial, district and commune roads. Expressway tolls would be used specifically to build new expressways.