Who's responsible for shortcomings of BOT projects?

By Trung Ngoc - Aug 15, 2017 | 05:57 PM GMT+7

TheLEADERMany of BOT (Build-operate-transfer) projects have bothered the public. The recent outstanding problems related to Cai Lay toll station in Tien Giang province or Tao Xuyen toll station in Thanh Hoa province once raise the public question when shortcomings of BOT projects will be radically and explicitly resolved.

Who's responsible for shortcomings of BOT projects?
A driver was giving small change when he paid toll fees at the Cai Lay toll station. Photo: 24h.com.vn

Cai Lay toll station has recently attracted the public attention. Drivers were giving small change when they paid toll fees at the toll station on Monday afternoon, causing traffic jam and resulting in difficulties for fee collectors. Previously, some of drivers were putting small change in plastic bottles when paying fees at the toll station.

The drivers’ actions were to voice their disagreement with the wrong placement of and the high fee at the toll station that has officially begun operation since August 01. The fee is VND35,000 -180,000 (equivalent to US$1.5 - 8) each time for a 12-km road.

Tao Xuyen BOT toll station was established to collect fee for a project on construction of a section of National Highway No 1A with investment capital of VND822 billion (equivalent to US$36.1 million).

At first, payback time was calculated for 27 years and seven months and the time for the investor to earn profits was additional three years.

However, after review and recalculation of the project, the total capital investment reduced to VND786 billion (roughly US$34.6 million) and the number of vehicles running through the toll station were higher than expected; therefore, the payback time was adjusted to only seven years and two months.

Until now, the investor has already collected its entire investment capital and earned profits for one year. The MoT, therefore, has decided to stop the operation of the toll station for further negotiation and settlement.

According to Pham The Minh, CEO of the Vietnam Construction Association, that the payback time is reduced by more than 20 years indicates the problems in project appraisal and approval conducted by the State’s agencies. This is also a common status of many BOT projects implemented recently.

In addition, many of the State’s agencies are incapable of management, letting investors manipulate project planning and survey of traffic flow and raise the fee higher than the actual one… This extends payback time in favor of investors.

Furthermore, the collection of fees is not specifically planned, leading to the dense displacement of toll booths on short distances.

"Agencies under management of ministries should take responsibilities for this situation. BOT projects must be both profitable and reasonable”, Mr. Minh emphasized.

Some other bridge experts agreed, saying that the key point is the transparency of the BOT projects and management capability of the State’s agencies. If the steps in the process had been strictly followed, this situation would not occur.