According to drivers, the fees of VND35,000-180,000 (USD1.50-8.18) to travel on a 12-km road with just two lanes was too high. Meanwhile, the fees of for vehicles of from seven seats and lower is just VND40,000 (USD1.80) on Trung Luong-HCM City Highway which is up to 50km and has four lanes.
Drivers also oppose the location where the toll station is built. The station is aimed to collect fees from vehicles which go into the 12-km road leading to Cai Lay Town. However, it is situated on the National Highway which bizarrely means even vehicles not using the 12-km road also have to pay the fees.
The protest has slowed payment at the toll gate and in some cases, many drivers are deliberately causing problems with attempting to pay with VND500,000 notes or very small change, taking time of the staff and causing serious congestion. The toll had to close several times on August 14 and 15 due to serious congestion.
At a meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee on August 15, Minister of Transport Truong Quang Nghia said that the tolls are applied for the 12-km road leading to Cai Lay Town and 26.5 kilometres of National Highway 1 upgraded by National Highway 1 Tien Giang Investment Co Ltd, the investor of the BOT toll station.
He added that the Ministry of Transport had sought opinions from different agencies before allowing the investor to carry out the project, so the ministry and authorities of Tien Giang Province had to take the responsibility for the public anger about the project first, instead of the investor.
He, however, regretted that drivers had used small notes and even shouted and blew their horns to force officials at the toll station to open the gates. Many locals also joined in cheering for the drivers. As a result, the booth operators were forced to open the gates to avoid traffic jams.
According to the ministry, drivers should have informed local authorities of their disagreement over the fees, instead of taking action themselves.
Nghia emphasised that the toll station investor had agreed on the proposal to slash the fees to VND25,000 from the current VND35,000 for vehicles of below 12 seats. “All the public proposals about the Cai Lay BOT toll station will be settled early,” he promised.
At the meeting, National Assembly Secretary General Nguyen Hanh Phuc said that the current fees of Cai Lay BOT toll station were too high. According to him, the station needs to be put into the list of being supervised in the coming time.
Phuc pointed out that fees have been charged on Phap Van-Cau Gie Highway which, however, has not yet been expanded, but just the surfaced has been upgraded. Meanwhile, up to four BOT toll stations are put on a 100-km road section from Hanoi to Thai Binh Province.
He called on strict measures on the BOT toll station management to avoid the public outrage over the unsuitable fee levels like in the case of Cai Lay toll station.