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Essay: HCMC hastily looking for traffic congestion solutions

Written by Kiên Cường http://vnexpress.net/Vietnam/Xa-hoi/2007/10/3B9FB688/

Translated by language123 and Phan Thị Mai Trang

“Possibility of the burst of traffic congestion was warned 10 years ago, though the state agencies have not had any positive measures. Therefore, ‘grass grows under feet’, it reflects local authorities’ shortsightedness”, admitted Le Hieu Dang, vice chairman of the HCMC Fatherland Front Committee.

In the conference for urgent solutions to traffic congestion and road accidents held by the Fatherland Front Committee yesterday, Mr Dang commented the leaders had given some solutions that were not effective. “It is basically because the city didn’t determinedly conduct measures available as well as enforced documents. A typical example is street encroachment problem which was reported regulatedly before Oct 15 by local districts’ authorities. Up to now, there have been no changes,” said Mr Dang.

Vice Chairman of Vietnam Journalist Associations, Mr Dinh Phong suggested that there should not be an overloaded population in the inner city and it would be more reasonable if there is a move of colleges, train station, bus stations to suburban areas.

HCMC with a 10-million population has been heavily suffering from the constantly increasing number of vehicles. Everyday, the city has averagely 1200 motorbikes and 100 automobiles newly registered. The number of vehicles, together with the additional number of vehicles from out-of-town causes an unavoidably overloaded state to the city.

Deputy Chief of Bureau of Traffic Management, Dau An Phuc indicated a large number of measures will be applied to curb gridlocks up to the end of this year. Particularly, the order of street pavements will be strictly re-organized, plans of moving markets encroaching streets will be submitted in November. For instance, the night market Ki Hoa on Cao Thang Street will be discontinued to return space for circulation.

Some routes in the areas of Nguyen Thai Son – Nguyen Kiem, Cong Quynh – Bui Thi Xuan will be lane-divided. The Transportation Department make projects on altering circulative directions of streets or resizing the width of lanes depending on rush-hours; re-check all the bus routes, move bus stops which are near intersections, which are close to eachother and which are placed at the positions with high road-accident density.

Projects on stacking school and office schedules, charging vehicle-owner fees, imposing stronger penalties on traffic violators… were re-proposed for a referendum before enforcing by the Transportation Department.

However, the Front’s representatives said that the solutions proposed were infeasible and that the city’s authorities fell into embarrassment and confusion in preventing congestion.

Mr Dinh Phong indicated some problems in imposing stronger penalties on traffic violators. For an example, vehicle capturing is unreasonable. He suggested in stead of prisoning vehicles which is a matter for there is not much room enough for keeping them, fines should be heavy and traffic law violations are not missed.

Another idea is that the city should disentangle the problems, find out ways to live with traffic jams, not prevent them by prohibitions. “The project on allowing automobiles to travel on days odd or even depending on their number plates is unfeasible since everyone has rights to use their own vehicles when necessary,” contributed lawyer Nguyen Van Hau. Mr Phong even made the hall bursting out laughing when he showed a case where his wife was in labor on an even day while the number plate was odd. Then she had to wait till an odd day or to take a public transportation to hospital.

The Front’s representatives suggested the Transportation Department should proclaim to the public about starting and ending day of road constructions so that inspection and supervision will be better. Many major constructions of traffic, technical infrastructure in the central city have been slowly conducted, which considerably narrows streets and recently causes traffic congestions in rush-hours.”

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