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Gridlock On Profitable Expressway

By Yang Xingyun

Nation, page 12

Issue 512

March 28, 2011

Translated by Tang Xiangyang

Original article:[Chinese

Shenzhen academic Guan Zhigang is still waiting for a reply from the Guangdong government on his proposal to reduce the toll for the Guangzhou-Shenzhou expressway.

He wrote that the expressway has lost its attraction as an expressway and instead become a never-ending traffic jam.

 On March 23rd, He Jianzhong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transport, said in a news briefing that in the future, free expressways would account for over 96% of the China’s total mileage. 

 Recently, media cited an unnamed official with the traffic bureau of the Guangdong Province saying that the government was investigating and studying measures to deal with the “huge profits of expressways”. He Zhongyou, director of the traffic bureau of the Guangdong Province also promised that it would conduct a “deep investigation” into eliminating expressway tolls.

 Huge profits

 The Guangzhou-Shenzhen expressway was financed by the Guangdong Road Development Company and Hong Kong Hehe Development Co, Ltd. for 12.22 billion yuan. It started operation in July, 1997.

 “There are 490,000 cars using it at the peak of Spring Festival period,” Xu Jun, head of the expressway said.

 With ever more vehicles, traffic jams have become a common and accidents have become more frequent. Official statistics show that, on average the expressway saw 24 accidents a day in 2010. At 0.6 yuan a kilometer, the tool for the expressway is still the highest in Guangdong, in spite of the gridlock.

 Zhao Shaohua, a lawyer who once brought a suit against the expressway for “absence of service”, has estimated that, between Jul 1 2002 and Dec 31 2009, drivers paid a total of 24.25 billion yuan to use the road – an average of 2.8 billion yuan a year.

 Not the only case

 The Guangzhou-Shenzhen expressway is not alone.

 The first phase of the Huanan expressway in Guangzhou City has six toll stations and is said by the locals to be the most expensive expressway in the world. Though local NPC and CPPCC members have been calling for a readjustment of the tolls for several years, the prices remain unchanged.

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