Restrictions on motorbikes have to happen in tandem with public transportation improvements, Khuat Viet Hung, Vice Chairman of the National Traffic Safety Committee, tells Tin Tuc (News).
Motorcycles have been blamed for traffic jams in major cities in the country. Can you tell us something about the National Traffic Safety Committee's plan to restrict their use in big cities?
The Government, the Prime Minister and authorities nation-wide have been paying special attention to policies restricting the use of individual means of transport, particularly motorbikes. The aim is to make such policies suitable to the socio-economic conditions of each locality.
However, we have to remember that motorcycle is the main means of transport for more than 85 per cent of the Vietnamese population living in both rural and urban areas. Therefore, any decision regarding the management or restriction on using motorcycles must go hand in hand with improvements in public transport services. A particular point I want to emphasis here is the policy should also go hand in hand with the land-use plan in the region that we want to introduce the policy.
Do you think it is the right time to prohibit the use of motorcycles in urban areas?
There is no doubt that we'll have to impose restrictions on the use of motorcycles in urban areas. But there must be a road map for the implementation. Policies for management and control of individuals' means of transport, including motorcycles, have been applied in our major cities for many years. To ensure that these policies are implemented well, the Government had instructed the Ministry of Transport to conduct studies and develop proposals on the development of various effective means of transport in urban areas, including public and private vehicles.
The MoT has proposed that the Prime Minister instructs all cities to develop their own projects to manage and control private means of transport while strengthening public transportation capacity in the inner city areas and on busy routes with high transport density. The PM has asked that such projects are commissioned in 2015.
Of course, during the development of these projects, local authorities should take into consideration the idea of encouraging the people to use bicycles for short distance travel – for less than 2km, or even go on foot.
For longer distances, public transportation should be used.
How safe do you think our current public transportation system is?
I think buses are the safest means of public transportation in Viet Nam at present. The number of people travelling by buses has been increasingly greatly, that is why whenever an accident is reported, the public is alarmed. We need to improve safety, but also remember that accidents are caused by people, not the vehicles.
Motorcycles are the main means of transport for most people in major cities. If there are restrictions placed when public transportation coverage is limited, what can people do?
As I have mentioned above, whatever policy we are going to issue, it must suit the transport capacity of the city in question. Commuters must have more than one form of transportation to choose from.
Authorities of many cities in the world, like Guangzhou in China, Singapore or Seoul in South Korea, have been successful in applying two groups of measures – first, to improve the capacity and service quality of public transportation; second, to have good management and control of individuals' means of transport. I am confident that we can apply lessons from other cities in Viet Nam. — VNS