More imbalances in China’s infrastructural development. In rural areas, highway tolls aren’t collecting enough money. In urban areas, they’re collecting too much. And Chinese drivers are beginning to feel angry about it according to Asia Times Online.
The central government has pledged to crackdown on overpriced highway tolls and close tollgates that collect more money than needed to repay construction loans. Five ministries, including the Ministry of Transport, the National Development and Reform. Commission (NDRC), which controls pricing, and the State Council office for rectifying malpractice, have signed up for the campaign. As long ago as 2005, a survey found that 158 tollgates had been set up illegally along 100 highways in 16 provinces and had collected a total of 14.9 billion yuan (US$2.3 billion), the National Audit Office said in a 2008 report.
The toll industry is the most profitable sector of the Chinese economy- about 95% of China’s expressways are toll roads. The 128-kilometer Guangzhou-Shenzhen Expressway is the most profitable highways in China, perhaps because it charges drivers over double the amount per kilometer set by regional authorities. Its been under fire from Zhao Shaohua, a Guangzhou solicitor, who took legal action against the highway’s owners last year for not building enough gas stations or rest stops- a stipulation in their deal to get the project.
And while in rural areas there don’t seem to be enough drivers, in urban areas there are too many. Roads are wearing down faster than authorities expected.
“With the increasing number of cars and trucks, traffic jams are common on the expressway. In the Spring Festival last year, it took me five hours to drive home, three hours more than the usual time,” Yu Chuxing, a Guangzhou copywriter, told Asia Times Online. “How can it be called an expressway?”
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