Southern road users are complaining about the imposition of tolls at two points along a road in Champassak province running from the Lao-Japan Mekong Bridge to Vangtao-Chongmek International Border Checkpoint between Laos and Thailand.Motorists began being charged toll fees on August 17, with the toll fees payable varying depending on the type of vehicle they are driving.
Deputy Director of the Public Works and Transport Department of Champassak province, Mr. Khamsoy Pathoumthong told Vientiane Times on Friday morning that scores of people are complaining about being charged fees along Road No. 16, which runs over a distance of 42 kilometres from the Lao-Japan Bridge to the Lao-Thai border.
“Road users are not happy about tolls being collected on this road, which they say are fairly expensive. There are two points for collecting the tolls,” he said.
The government signed a concession with Duangdy Bridge-Road Construction Company allowing them to collect fees for a period of 45 years.
Right away, this company is experimenting with the collection of fees over a period of four months. It will then be reassessed as to whether the company will continue to charge fees along the road.
The Champassak governor has ordered provincial Public Works and Transport officials to look at how the company is collecting the tolls.
However, Mr. Khamsoy told Vientiane Times that officials could not go to interrupt their works because the company has concluded an agreement with the government allowing it to collect the tolls.
Mr. Khamsoy explained that the company is charging quite expensive tolls because it has invested a lot in the widening and improvement of Road No. 16.
Based on the fee schedule, cars drivers are required to pay 20,000kip, and mini-bus operators 25,000-30,000.
Meanwhile 35-seat buses are charged 40,000 kip and heavy trucks or trailers 80,000 kip per one way on this route from the Lao-Japan Bridge to Vangtao-Chongmek International Border Checkpoint.
Members of the public complained that right now, many provinces are trying to eliminate the collection of tolls on major roads in order to facilitate traffic and trade but Champassak is now doing the opposite.
Just after the Lao-Japan Mekong Bridge, there is one toll booth set up along Road No 16 while the second toll booth is located near the Lao-Thai border.
Meanwhile if motorists turn left after the Lao-Japan Bridge in a bid to avoid the tolls on the road, they will also be levied with another toll by a different company 25km down the road leading to Vat Phou World Heritage Site.
It’s not only Laos that collects tolls from motorists on its roads; many other countries including neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam also do.
Motorists in Thailand can avoid the tolls however if they choose to travel on the alternative free highways rather than the toll roads.
Source: Vientiane Times