The Adityapur toll bridge. Picture by Animesh Sengupta
The toll rates of the one-year-old Adityapur bridge will see a substantial hike this month.
The management of Adityapur Toll Bridge Company Limited (ATBCL), which tabled a new rate chart for two-wheelers, autos, four-wheelers, single and multi-axle trucks, is awaiting approval from the state transport department.
ATBCL took the decision after a company board meeting earlier this month as a desperate measure to shore up revenue. The company has been incurring heavy losses — in the range of Rs 50 lakh and Rs 55 lakh per quarter — since the toll bridge became operational on July 21, 2011.
Currently, two-wheelers pay Rs 5, autos Rs 10, cars, jeeps and vans Rs 15, light commercial vehicles Rs 20, minibuses Rs 30, double-axle trucks Rs 40 and multi-axle trucks and trailers Rs 50.
ATBCL managing director Sudhanshu Kumar, however, declined to reveal the new rates. “We will disclose figures once we get the state’s seal of approval,” he said.
Raising the rate was a must as the number of vehicles using the Adityapur toll bridge was “much less in reality than what we had anticipated”, he added.
“Low vehicle turnout equals low revenue generation,” said Kumar. “Many heavy commercial vehicles take Kharkai bridge as a go-between even though it is prohibited.”
Heavy vehicles earn the bulk of toll. This sneaky routing of trucks and trailers causes ATBCL to bleed heavy losses, the MD added.
“We asked East Singhbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawan deputy commissioners to strictly implement the ban on heavy vehicles on the Kharkai bridge,” he said.
Kumar said now they were focussing on breaking even. “Once the new rates come into force and the ban on Kharkai is strictly followed, we may break even.”
The bulk of the amount — Rs 76 crore — spent on the bridge was from a bank loan. “We bear establishment costs, pay interest and have to repay the bank loan from October,” said Kumar.
The 2.22km long bridge with four-lane approach roads was aimed to slash commute between industrial townships of Adityapur and Jamshedpur by 5-6 km. Tata Steel and Aiada were the promoters of the project, which started with Rs 21 crore equity. ATBCL started construction in 2005.
Truckers not wishing to be named said they would pay the extra levy. But two-wheeler owners were furious. “I pay toll of Rs 10, Rs 5 to and fro everyday. We had hoped for exemption and the firm wants to hike rates,” fumed Kadma resident Sunil Mahto who goes to work in Gamharia.