The Chinese government has extended the highway toll exemptions for trucks carrying food to help snow disaster relief work and reconstruction in areas affected by the severe winter weather of the last month, the Ministry of Communications has announced.
A notice on the ministry's website says the "green channel" service, which allows vehicles carrying agricultural products toll-free of seven major arteries, will be extended until March 31.
The highways include the north-south Yinchuan-Kunming, Hohhot-Nanning, Beijing-Haikou, Harbin-Haikou and Shanghai-Haikou routes, and the east-west Lianyungang-Urumqi and Shanghai-Lhasa routes.
Extending a total 27,000 kilometers, they connect 29 provincial capitals and 71 major and medium-size cities.
The move was aimed at maintaining stable food supplies and ensuring price stability for larger cities, said the notice.
Vehicles carrying steel structures, conduits, cable, cement poles, hardware, and construction equipment to restore electricity facilities would also be exempted from tolls.
Drivers are reminded that they must use passes with "green channel" logos when passing toll gates.
The ministry launched the "green channel" service on Jan. 25 to meet the rising demand of food during China's Lunar New Year, which fell on Feb. 7 this year. The service was due to end on Feb.5 this year.
In the past month, prolonged low temperatures, icy rain and heavy snow have disrupted southern China.
A total of 21 provincial-level areas have been affected, with Hunan, Guizhou, Jiangxi, Anhui, Hubei, Zhejiang, Sichuan and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region being the worst hit. The weather left 107 people dead and caused 15.4 billion U.S. dollars in losses.
China opens the "green channel" annually to meet festive transport emergencies, which usually last about ten days.