Aleksandr Lukashenko holds meeting to discuss the introduction of ETC system

    Introducing an electronic toll collection (ETC) system on Belarusian roads should not affect the transit flows and the interests of Belarusian citizens, President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a meeting to review the progress in this investment project.

    “Today we will discuss one of the most important investment projects to be implemented in our country and probably take the necessary decisions. It is important that this project should not affect the interests of Belarusian citizens, especially their welfare. This is why we decided to discuss the project on such a high level,” the President noted.

    Addressing the government members, Aleksandr Lukashenko demanded to report on the cost of such projects in foreign countries and Belarus, and how innovative the project is. Secondly, the Belarusian leader said he would like to hear about the degree of involvement of domestic organizations in the project, and whether it is possible for the country to develop the system on its own. “The electronic toll collection system should not affect the country’s transit flows,” the head of state stressed.

    The main investor and contractor of the project is the Austrian Kapsch Group. The company is the world’s leader in ETC system development.

    The meeting was attended by Erwin Toplak, Chief Operating Officer of Kapsch. He spoke about his vision of the project in Belarus. One of the companies of Kapsch operates in Belarus, cooperating with the velcom company.

    The ETC system in Belarus will be based on the technology of microwave data transmission over short distances. The system provides for the use of onboard devices in all vehicles. On-board devices will be sold through a network of distribution points, including petrol stations, roadside service facilities. Signal from an onboard device is transmitted through communication channels to the Central Office which registers toll collection. Erwin Toplak demonstrated an onboard device used in trucks and cars to the head of state.

    There will not be any speed limitations or traffic lane limitations.

    The system will be technically compatible with similar systems operated by the company in Austria, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, Italy, France, Spain, and in the Russian Federation.

    The project in Belarus will be implemented in three phases, on all major national highways. The first phase of the project can be completed by July 2013. According to the investor, the system is convenient and easy to operate. There are plans to install it on 2,800 kilometers of roads.

    The reason for the wide use of the ETC systems based on microwave technology is high efficiency of toll collection (97-99%), simplicity and reliability, and lower cost and shorter period of implementation.

    The current toll collection system in Belarus was created in 1996, and is technically and conceptually outdated. Financial losses due to evasion of toll payments by drivers account for at least 20%. The meeting participants agreed that its further use makes no economic sense due to high costs and low efficiency.

    Vice Premier Anatoly Kalinin reported that the relevant taskforce had considered all the aspects concerning the project in Belarus. The commission recognized the system suggested by the Austrian company as the most efficient one.

    According to the investment agreement, the project is implemented by an investor (without government funding). In the future the system will be transferred into the ownership of the Republic of Belarus. The pay-off period of the project does not exceed three years.

    The revenue received from the use of the ETC system will be invested in the further upgrade of motorways connecting Minsk and regional centers and the main international transport corridors. The move will help develop a network of European-class motorways, and boost the country’s transit potential.

    Foreign specialists will be involved in the system management at the preliminary stage. Henceforth, the system will be operated by Belarusian specialists only. With this, the investor guarantees that not less than 30% of the works on the system development will be performed by the Belarusian side. The investor is also ready to increase the bar to 50% if the national companies are able to secure high quality of the works.

    Participants of the meeting agreed that no tolls will be collected from motorists of the Customs Union member states in Belarus.

    Participants of the meeting considered the Austrian project in detail. The head of state instructed to revisit the issue regarding the share of involvement of the participants in the project. As soon as the parties come to an agreement, the relevant draft document will be submitted to the President.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko did not rule out that the Austrian investor might be invited to implement other projects of Belarus, for example, the development of the urban transport management system in Minsk.