Vietnamese drivers win battle against road toll with bags of small notes

By Doan Loan, Nguyen Hai   April 11, 2017 | 06:48 am PT
Sometimes, a bunch of small notes can deliver a stronger message than a thousand words.

Vietnam's transport authorities announced on Tuesday that they will waive a road toll for locals who have been protesting paying fees for a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) financed road.

Locals say they don't even use the road connecting the north-central provinces of Nghe An and Ha Tinh.

The announcement said all vehicles with less than 30 seats belonging to locals with residency or business licenses registered in the vicinity will no longer be subject to the fees issued at toll booths situated near Ben Thuy Bridge, which connects the two provinces.

Many local drivers have been fiercely protesting the toll, saying it is eating up millions of VND per month. 

Since December last year, drivers have been resorting to banners, roadblocks and paying the fee with bags of small notes in an attempt to send a message to authorities.

Last week, the Ministry of Transport decided to reduce the toll by 50 percent for Nghe An Province residents, but that failed to satisfy locals.

The latest decision from the ministry has been widely welcomed.

Dang Thi Anh Phuong, 35, from Ha Tinh, said she was happy with the new policy, because she "had been gathering people to protest against that toll road every single day."

Le Xuan Hai, 46, another local from Ha Tinh Province, was one of the drivers who was forced to pay the toll every time he crossed the bridge. Hai said he was pleased with the decision, but still wanted the toll booth to be moved.

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