ETC service providers begin to charge VND120,000 for the card installation process. (Photo: SGGP)
One of the most annoying issues related to ETC systems is the service payment. Many vehicle owners so far have reported that they are charged twice when passing one ETC booth.
Pham T from Hanoi when passing Toll Plaza No.2 on National Way No.5 on August 17 discovered that his traffic account was charged two times, VND39,000 (US$1.7) each. Similarly, Nguyen Khac C from Bac Ninh Province saw his traffic account being deducted twice just for one time passing a toll booth, but no one answer his call to the hotline of VETC Co. Ltd., the business responsible for operating the ETC system here.
In response, VETC said that this is a technical error, and the second charges will be deposited back to corresponding vehicle owners. However, this worries vehicle drivers since they always have to check their account to see if they encounter the error or not to report to VETC.
Another annoying issue is the complicated money deposit phase into a traffic account. They first need to deposit their money into an e-wallet, and then transfer from this wallet to their traffic account, which costs them a high fee. It would be much better to directly link their bank account to their traffic one.
VDTC explained the necessity of this two-step procedure with two reasons. To begin with, the speed of a vehicle passing an ETC booth must be at least 3km/h for the system to recognize and send information to the toll calculation system. If a bank’s e-banking system cannot process this recognition in time, leading to wrong opening or closing of booth barriers, then the vehicle might be damaged. In addition, a traffic account is not an e-wallet, and thus must receive money from a certain e-wallet.
Also, banks have confirmed that a customer’s bank account cannot be accessed by a third party. This means vehicle owners have to use an e-wallet as an intermediary to deposit money from their bank account to their traffic one. The service fee is regulated by intermediaries.
Service providers have suggested some methods to deposit money into a traffic account free of charge. Account owners can transfer money from their current bank account to the bank account of VETC or VDTC via Internet Banking for free, with the content being their traffic account number or vehicle license plate.
Viettel now has its e-wallet called Viettel Pay and Viettel Money to directly link to a traffic account. VETC allows customers to pay directly from an e-wallet or create a link to BIDV (Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Investment and Development of Vietnam) so that money can be automatically deposit in set amount to their traffic account.
Regarding the proposal of mandatory installation of an ETC card for the car registration process, the Transport Ministry attributed this to the goal of having 90 percent of automobiles having an ETC card attached in 2022, as directed by the Government.
Since this is merely a proposal, the Transport Ministry is working with Vietnam Register to research its possible effects on related subjects and to collect feedbacks from associated units for the most sensible solution.
Economy expert Vu Dinh Anh commented that the public should support the operation of ETC systems for the overall benefit, yet mandatory installation of an ETC card for the car registration process is not logical. It should be the job of service providers to market their service, maybe via promotion campaigns but not via such a regulation.
Agreeing with that, Nguyen Van Chien from the Hanoi Bar Association said that there must be careful research before turning this proposal into a legal policy in order to suit applicable laws and protect the legal rights of citizens.
As to the complaint that an ETC card installation fee of VND120,000 ($5.13) is too high, the Transport Ministry answered that Vietnam is now using the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) technology for the non-stop toll collection, which is also popular in many countries. The installation fee has been reviewed and approved by the ministry, after the time service providers attached ETC cards free of charge on 80 percent of existing vehicles in Vietnam.
Deputy Minister of Transport Le Dinh Tho informed that in the first stage of automatic toll collection until 2023, there are still barriers at toll booths. Entering the second stage from 2024-2025, these booths only keep lane separations. From 2026 onwards, the booths only have a toll collection device on them, and vehicles move smoothly past these booths using any lane with no separation.
In related news, Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) said that an ETC system will be launched soon at airports nationwide. This system is synchronous with others in the country. At present, Noi Bai and Tan Son Nhat International Airports are working with ETC service providers to prepare a plan to submit to ACV.