Opinion / Opinion Line

Local government is acting illegally charging people to use a public road

(China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-09 08:01

Local government is acting illegally charging people to use a public road

The scenery of provincial roads in Zhangbei, a small country in North China's Hebei province. [Photo/IC] 

ZHANGBEI, a small county in North China's Hebei province, recently began charging 50 yuan ($7.7) per person for using a provincial road that connects several local attractions. The cost of using the road may well be more than the toll to use an expressway, as everyone in a car will have to pay. Beijing News commented on Sunday:

China's provincial roads such as the one in Zhangbei should be free of charge, according to the relevant regulations. It is thus a surprise that the Zhangbei government is charging people for using the road claiming they are buying "tickets to enter scenic spots".

In fact, the county government proposed to charge 80 yuan per person last year, but had to give up the idea due to the widespread opposition.

Such a charge is scarcely convincing, because unlike Fenghuang Ancient Town, a famous attraction in Central China's Hunan province jointly run by the local government and private companies, the road in Zhangbei was built using taxpayers' money.

Besides, it is the provincial price bureau, not the Zhangbei county government, that has the authority to decide the "ticket price" of the province's tourist attractions, even if the provincial road can be counted as one.

A bigger question is that whether the road services provided by the local government, ranging from the maintenance of public toilets and road signs to security, will improve after the charge is levied.

It is, to some extent, understandable that the poverty-stricken Zhangbei county wants to exploit its unique tourism resources to develop the local economy. However, it is not supposed to charge people for their use of public roads. Instead, the Zhangbei authorities should put more effort into exploiting the local tourism resources and offering better services to attract tourists.

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