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Fees charged drivers must be legal and reasonable

China Daily | Updated: 2017-05-08 07:39

A LAWYER IN GUANGZHOU, South China's Guangdong province, is suing a local expressway company after he was charged 10 yuan ($1.4) for using a highway designed to link non-adjacent towns to an expressway, which he claims he did not use. Legal Daily commented on Saturday:

The linking lanes usually have a tollgate on one end and a non-adjacent town on the other. In some cases, drivers who reach the tollgate from other lanes rather than tolled highway are still charged the extra fee. The Guangzhou lawyer is not alone in questioning whether a driver should pay for the highway linking to an expressway if he or she does not use it.

Expressway companies argue that they have the right to charge such a fee to cover the construction and maintenance costs of these lanes. While many drivers refuse to buy such an explanation because they believe that the pre-express lanes are not expressways and hence any such charges, which can be more expensive than toll fees, are illegitimate.

Of all the controversies surrounding the case, one thing is clear: Drivers should not be charged for a service they do not use. What the Guangzhou expressway company has done does not hold any legal water, despite the fact that it assumes that any driver arriving at the tollgate has used the highway providing access to the expressway.

It is unlikely that the local transportation authorities permit drivers to be charged a fee when they do not use roads that link to expressways, and even if they do, such a decision is still subject to relevant laws such as the Law on the Protection of Consumer Rights and Interests and the regulations on toll roads. If the toll authorization is misinterpreted, whether on purpose or not, the expressway company should at least explain why it did so and on what grounds it justifies charging all drivers indiscriminately.

The rapid expansion of expressway network in China is praiseworthy, but it also has caused problems. In addition to charging fees fairly and legally, local transportation officials should launch a thorough review of their road management to protect the legitimate interests of drivers.

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