Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang responded to questions about the overall picture of infrastructure and the responsibility of the ministry and local authorities for ensuring traffic safety at a National Assembly question-and-answer session in Hanoi on November 18.

To ease concern about inappropriate transport tolls, Thang said his ministry is restructuring the sector, with a focus on public investment, State-owned enterprises and public transportation, including road, railway, aviation, inland waterway and navigation.

The aim is to improve the service quality, thereby reducing transport tolls, he said, adding that prices of railway services are still the same despite the rising fuel costs.

In the aviation field, the ministry is calling for private financing, partly paving the way for equitisation, with Vietnam Airlines as a recent success story. Its prices are lower than those offered by regional rivals, he pointed out.

About the development of transport infrastructure, the ministry has also proposed a number of policies that engage domestic and foreign investors in the process. For the past three years, as many as 160 trillion VND (7.6 billion USD) have been raised from the public, or 60 percent of investment from the official development assistance, State budget and government bonds.

The sector is considering a plan to task investors with fee collection and management after their projects are done. Beyond that, a comprehensive plan to mobilise all possible resources for infrastructure upgrading is in the pipeline, Thang informed.

The minister also noted with delight that infrastructure is giving rural areas a new facelift, contributing to their ongoing new rural construction.

In response to questions about the progress of building suspension bridges, Thang said the ministry has devised a plan to build them in 50 provinces nationwide, and the government has given nod to the construction of 186 bridges using the State budget next year.

With over 7,810 bridges to be constructed across the country, around 2 trillion VND (94 million USD) is needed from different sources, including localities and individual sponsors.

Sharing concern about the lack of motorways in 11 island districts, Thang assured that five of them will receive investment in the coming time and the ministry is responsible for finding financial sources for the others.

Under a rural transport strategy until 2020, motorways will lead up to all communal downtowns.Localities are now paying much attention to developing rural roads, he said, citing that each year, the northern province of Tuyen Quang builds 700km of road while Phu Yen finishes work on 500km.

Switching to the fight against corruption in the sector, Thang said together with the State comprehensive plan, a string of measures have been in place with specific tasks assigning to senior officials at all levels, from the minister to those at the grassroots, so as to ensure transparency in each stage.

Crackdowns on violations are also underway, but the most important is the personnel management. Entrance exams for leadership positions such as general directorate or directorate were recently held in a transparent and proper manner, he said.

Thang is due to continue his session on November 19.-VNA