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Road Fund Sparks Rising Concerns

Source: Vientiane Times

The ‘Vientiane People’s Road Fund’ is sparking strong concerns and expressions of annoyance from members of the public fearing they’ll be hit in the hip pocket if it comes into effect next year.

Although Vientiane People’s Council approved the fund last week, many villagers are questioning whether the fund is really necessary and will it be spent appropriately on improving the capital’s roads.

Many members of the motoring public are also complaining that the fees for various vehicles are too high, adding to already high living costs in the capital.

Under the approved rates, many billions of kip will be collected for the fund with its implementation to be piloted in January next year.

Law makers said in principle, the capital can implement the project immediately. Nevertheless, if the project caused enormous effect on the public and they petitioned the National Assembly (NA), the NA could call for further debate on the matter.

According to Vientiane authorities, the fund would be collected from technical inspections of the state and private number plates (except vehicles that utilise diplomatic corps number plates and those of international organisations) will need to pay the set fees annually. The current fee is 90,000 kip for cars/pickups and 100,000 kip for 10-wheel trucks.

Nevertheless, the planned fees are as follows: – truck with 4 or more axles, 1,000,000 kip; – 45 seat bus, 500,000 kip; – 25 seat bus, 400,000 kip; – passenger minibus, taxi, 300,000 kip; – private car or SUV with 3,000 CC+ engine, 800,000 kip; – smaller car or sports utility vehicle below 3,000 CC, 500,000 kip; – motorbike with 109 CC- engine, 50,000 kip per year.

As of June, Vientiane had 824,917 vehicles, excluding those belonging to national defence and security forces, according to a report from the Vientiane Vehicle Control Unit.

Of the total figure, 55,819 are cars, 113,480 pickups, 24,828 SUV, 29,896 vans, 31,202 trucks, 1,930 45-seat bus, 340 tricycles (tuk tuk) and 564,788 motorbikes.

Some 74 percent of the fund is set to be used for construction and repairs of roads in the city. A further 25 percent will go to pay off debts incurred by road projects. The remaining one percent will be used for administrative purposes.

Vientiane Department of Public Work and Transport Mr Detsongkham Thammavong told media this week the fund had been debated at the capital administrative meetings three times.

Nevertheless, Vientiane People’s Council did not approve the fund at its past council session in May last year after council members consulted on the project with local residents.

Initially, many residents didn’t agree using the fund to pay debts incurred in previous years, but recommended authorities to spend it on building new roads.

Secondly the fees were too high and thirdly 3 percent of the fund to be used for administrative purposes was also too high. But now the proportion for administration has been reduced to one percent.

Vientiane Mayor Dr Sinlavong Khoutphaythoune told Lao PM Thongloun Sisoulith at a meeting held in March this year the debt of the capital amounted to more than 8,000 billion kip.