SEOUL, April 22 (UPI) -- North Korea is imposing traffic fines on roads to raise funds for construction, according to a source in the country.
Construction projects that are underway in preparation for Pyongyang's Seventh Party Congress in May are being funded through extortion, a source in North Hamgyong Province told Radio Free Asia.
The fines, or "tolls" must be paid along major roads at every 550-yard interval, RFA reported Thursday.
The state has mobilized additional personnel and devoted more funds to oversee the collection of the new traffic tax, the source said.
Police sometimes have to coerce ordinary North Koreans to agree to the fees, and a backlash is growing against the new policy.
"Checkpoints have been built at every 550 yards [in the area]. Cars that come and go in both directions are unconditionally subject to fines," the source said.
Incidents of bribery are increasing among drivers in response to the new ordinance, possibly because paying off security agents is less costly.
The toll is about 5,000 North Korean won, or about $5, but fines are also being imposed on individual cars if they don't pass a test of external and internal "cleanliness."
"At any rate, one cannot pass a checkpoint without paying some kind of fee," the source said.
Other targets of the state fees are drivers who commit minor traffic violations. Those funds are also used toward construction projects, the source said.
In Chongjin, a North Korea border city, dozens of checkpoints have been established. The funds are being used to build a coal mine equipment factory, the source said.