Drivers cause chaos on national highway in protest of toll fees in southern Vietnam

By Phuoc Tuan   October 5, 2017 | 12:20 am PT
Drivers cause chaos on national highway in protest of toll fees in southern Vietnam
A tailback is seen on National Highway 1 as drivers protest against a toll fee collection which they find unreasonable. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan
They claim a toll station is in the wrong place and that they're being forced to pay double to use the same stretch of highway.

Traffic chaos ensued early on Thursday morning on a major road running through Bien Hoa Town in Dong Nai Province as a group of drivers tried every trick in the book to disrupt services at a toll station.

In an orchestated move, they drove slowly in a horizontal line into each lane of the toll station on National Highway 1 in Trang Bom District.

Then they used VND200 ($0.01) and VND500 notes, the smallest denomination in the country, to pay the toll fee, forcing staff to spend time counting their payments.

With all the lanes blocked, a massive tailback soon built up behind them.

The toll station had to close for 10 minutes to alow all the vehicles through, but then four passenger cars moved in and blocked the lanes to the toll station again.

The drivers said they had asked to meet with the manager of the station to ask him some “questions”, but their request had been refused so they'd decided to park up and wait.

Many passengers stuck in the tailback were forced to leave their vehicles and walk through the toll station.

The chaos went on until 9:45 a.m. when police showed up.

“We run into heavy traffic on this section every morning,” said a worker who was on her way to work on a company bus.

Locals said the congestion was the heaviest it has been in the past month.

“I think the authorities should come up with a solution soon because it's the residents here who are suffering the most,” said a local named Nguyen Van Tai.

For the past month, drivers have been using small change to pay toll fees at the station, which was built to recover an investment of VND1.5 trillion ($66 million) spent in 2014 to upgrade a 10-kilometer section of National Highway 1 and a 12-kilometer bypass running around Bien Hoa.

The station is scheduled to be in place for the next 10 years charging VND35,000-180,000 per vehicle.

Drivers said it was unreasonable to set up the toll station before the juntion of the bypass and the highway because many of them don't use the bypass and have to pay twice for using the same stretch of highway.

Dong Nai authorities said they have already asked for the fee to be cut and are awaiting guidance from the Ministry of Transport.


A driver holds a bag of small change he has prepared to pay the toll fee. Photo by VnExpress/Phuoc Tuan

In August drivers also tried to disrupt operations at a station on National Highway 1 in Tien Giang Province by paying with stacks of low denomination notes.

Tien Giang authorities said they would propose cuts to the toll fee while the transport ministry would decide if the station should be moved.

There are toll stations every 62 kilometers along the highway, according to a report released at a meeting of the legislative National Assembly in July last year. The standard distance set by the government is 70 kilometers.

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