Transport fee plan needs to be backed up with research: experts

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The Ministry of Transport's latest proposal to charge road maintenance fees on vehicles needs to be backed up by more scientific research before it is considered fair and reasonable, experts said.


Last week the ministry announced that it was drafting a plan to collect fees that will go to a to-be-established Road Maintenance Fund by asking gasoline-run vehicles to pay another VND1,000 (US$0.05) for each liter of fuel.


Those that run on diesel, meanwhile, have to pay VND180,000-1.4 million a month.


However, in an interview with Thanh Nien, Nguyen Ngoc Lu, vice chairman of Ho Chi Minh City Goods Transport Association, said the ministry should have conducted surveys to learn why the streets are so dilapidated before making the proposal.


According to Lu, the causes include the streets' low-construction quality, not only the number of vehicles. 


The influence of each kind of vehicles on streets should also be studied as it is unreasonable to ask them to pay the same fees, he said.


In fact, the load capacities of motorbikes are nothing compared to the loads that streets designed to carry cars and trucks should be able to handle, Do Van Dung, vice president of HCMC University of Technical Education, said.


It is unfair to ask motorbikes to pay the same fees as vehicles with large load capacities, Dung said.


Associate professor Do Kien Quoc, a construction expert from the HCMC University of Technology agreed with Dung, saying vehicles, especially trucks, carrying loads over their weight limits were the main culprits and should have to pay much more.


Lu said that the Saigon and Binh Trieu bridges only allowed vehicles with a load capacity not more than 30 tons, but those with loads of 70-80 tons usually cross the structures.


In the meantime, Thai Van Chung, general secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Goods Transport Association, said the proposal was unfair for transport companies and people, because they are currently paying several fees related to traffic like tolls and traffic fees of VND1,000 on each liter of fuel.


The ministry should use those fees to maintain and repair streets instead of establishing a new fund, imposing more financial burdens on companies and people, Chung said.


He estimated that traffic fees will increase from 16 percent of the transport cost price to 22 percent if the proposal is approved, stressing that cost price hikes will be burdens on transport companies and then consumers.


Under the plan, which is expected to be finalized and submitted to the government next month, the Road Maintenance Fund will collect some VND6 trillion ($315.9 million) a year, according to a statement on the government website.


The amount is enough to meet 82 percent of the maintenance demands of national highways and 41 percent of those of streets at localities, it said.


Vietnam's streets currently cover a total length of 256,684 kilometers.

The country can only afford the maintenance of over 1,000 kilometers of streets, mainly national highways, every year, the website said, adding that most roads in Vietnam were low in quality.

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