A major bridge project in Ho Chi Minh City may not be able to recover its construction cost as vehicles will likely avoid the toll-bridge to save on transport fees.
The fee to cross the Phu My Bridge, which links Districts 2 and 7 over the Saigon River, was set by Phu My Bridge BOT Joint Stock Company (PMC) at VND10,000 (US$0.55) for cars and VND40,000 for container trucks. The fee is to be collected for 26 years starting at the beginning of January, 2010.
But the plan might be bankrupt as Phu My Bridge is being surrounded by other toll stations, including those on Nguyen Van Linh Street and the Hanoi Highway.
Trucks from ports in District 4 would have to pay two tolls to reach Hanoi Highway while those from ports in Districts 7 or Nha Be would have to pay three.
Nguyen Thanh Thai, general director of PMC, said “we first thought that around 10,000 vehicles would pass the bridge station a day. But now there’s the chance that vehicles will avoid Phu My Bridge to save on tolls, so we have considered raising the maximum fee to VND68,000.”
Thai said PMC knows higher fees will only discourage vehicles, but otherwise it will impossible for them to recover VND2 trillion ($109.5 million) invested in the bridge.
It has also thought about transferring the bridge to another company.
The project borrowed VND1.4 trillion from France, under a Vietnam government guarantee.
If the cost is not recovered, the state might have to cover the debt, Thai said.
The toll station on Hanoi Highway made headlines last month as it had charged vehicles for the last eight years to recover construction costs from the construction of Dien Bien Phu Street, but many transporters said they never used Dien Bien Phi Street to reach the highway.
Phu My Bridge aims to help reduce the traffic flow on the Saigon Bridge and allows vehicles from the Mekong Delta to travel to destinations southeast and north of HCMC without passing directly through the metropolis.
Using Phu My instead of the Saigon Bridge, trucks from ports in Districts 4, 7 and Nha Be would be able to cut 8-10 kilometers from their trip to the Hanoi Highway before traveling to their destinations southeast or north of there.
Phu My is a major gateway to and from District 2, in which the Cat Lai Port is home to 80 percent of all shipping containers in the south.
The bridge was finished four months before schedule, a feat no other major construction project in the city has ever achieved.