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Road Users Call for End to Tolls in Champassak

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Business operators in Champassak province have called on the provincial government to close down the toll booths located on Road No. 16 but so far their calls have gone unheeded.

Instead, the provincial government has offered to close police and customs checkpoints in a bid to remove some of the red tape.

Local people don’t like the tolls being charged at two points along Road No. 16 from the Laos-Japan Mekong Bridge to the Vangtao-Chongmek border crossing between Laos and Thailand.

They view the tolls as overly expensive and want the government to cancel them.

One local resident told Vientiane Times on Monday that this route is being used to transport agricultural products to Thailand but that vehicles are being burdened by the tolls.

Business operators are displeased with these road tolls because their 10-wheel vehicles carrying agricultural products are paying 300,000 to 400-000 kip for a round trip, she said.

Now transporters are struggling to find other routes to avoid using Road No. 16 to deliver their products to Thailand.

Head of the provincial Administration Office, Mr Onkeo Phetphoumy, said that based on the provincial Standing Committee’s ordinary meeting in October, it was announced that checks on motorists on roads within the province would be cancelled.

The reason given was that the province needed to provide good public transport facilities to enable the shipment of agricultural products to neighbouring countries.

But provincial authorities want to eliminate complaints by business operators about the fact that there are two or three different checkpoints used by police and customs officers in the district.

Minister of Public Works and Transport, Dr Bounchan Sinthavong, answered questions at the National Assembly’s debate session which ended last week concerning the Champassak road tolls.

Laos’ small population means that road tolls are higher than in countries with a larger population in order to collect sufficient funds to pay the cost of construction and maintenance.

Road No. 16 runs for a distance of 40 kilometres and crosses into Thailand. The company responsible for building the road, Duangdy Bridge-Road Construction Company, calculated the toll at 500 kip per kilometre.

If the toll on this road is reduced, the company will lose their investment, Dr Bounchan said.

The price of a one way trip for a car along this road is 20,000 kip and 40,000 kip for a round trip.

Road users began paying tolls on August 17 with the fees varying depending on the type of vehicle.

The government signed a concession with the Duangdy Bridge-Road Construction Company allowing them to collect fees for a period of 45 years in order to repay the company’s investment.

The company claims it is charging a high price because it invested heavily in the project.

 

Source: Vientiane Times