Last week, Viet Nam News asked readers to share with us their thoughts about a new proposal from the HCM City's Transport Department which would make anyone trying to buy a car have to prove they have a place to park it. Most readers opposed the proposal.
Here are some of the best comments we received.
John Boag, American, HCM City
Requiring prospective car owners to have a parking slot prior to owning an automobile is like putting the cart before the horse.
As a Californian, I am well aware of the nightmares of huge traffic jams, and the cost to build and maintain the road traffic network. However, the financial advantages of a vibrant automobile sector, with sales and manufacturing, would be enormous for Viet Nam's economy. Also, and most important, is the increased safety of a driver in a car versus one on a motorbike.
Robert Fries, American, Texas, USA
"Where there is a will, there is a way." I doubt requiring a parking slot will significantly decrease traffic congestion. If a person can afford to buy a car, arranging a parking slot would seem to be a minor problem.
Who would even buy a car and not have a place to park it? Easing traffic congestion requires mass transit, not thousands of motorbike drivers and an increasing numbers of cars.
The real question is how to move the largest amount of people as efficiently as possible, while at the same time reducing pollution. Reducing the number of traffic related deaths and injuries (due to congestion) are also important goals.
In New York City, as well as in many European countries, subways and trains move lots of people and they can also relax while going to their destination instead of getting stressed out. Mass transportation is a win-win solution.
Le Thi Hoang Anh, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
I think this proposal may perhaps be workable, but it also may be costly and ineffective.
It seems costly because it would probably require local authorities to perform additional administrative duties to check that applicants actually have parking slots. Local authorities will also have to hire the necessary human resources to process parking slot evaluations and certifications.
Next, the additional administrative activities may also create more room for bribes and other corruption. Some car buyers may not have a parking slot, but they can always bribe the officer. That is why this solution may be an ineffective one.
A possible solution that would be more effective and less costly is to educate people about the negatives of using private vehicles and develop a more convenient, economic, safer and cleaner public transportation system for people. People will make better choices if they understand how private vehicles increase congestion and cars are socially stigmatized as bad-behaviour, cruel to other people and cruel to the environment.
Craig, a tourist
I would love to know how you could prove you have a parking space.
John Haywood, British, Ha Noi
Given the generally poor road infrastructure and parking facilities, I think it makes perfect sense and I would love to see something similarly adopted in Ha Noi.
The question, already posed by Craig above, is how would someone prove they have a parking space and how would it be enforced? It also seems there are some contradictory ideas coming from the Government; on the one hand they are trying to tackle congestion and road safety, while on the other hand they are encouraging car ownership by scrapping the import duty on new cars.
Willis Wong, Singaporean, HCM City
The existing parking facilities for automobiles are abysmal. I have read many times in the news that underground parking area projects are being put on hold or being completely given up by investors due to a stack of red tape. Restricting the number of cars is only a short-term solution.
The Government should reinforce existing rules and not delay land clearance. The longer the delay, the higher the cost of clearing the land will be. This will just increase and inflate the budget of the original land-clearing project. With all these existing cars parking by the roadside, it will cause congestion.
Although the government shows effort, it needs to do more critical thinking before putting policies into practice. In my opinion, building more parking facilities (at least one on each street) should be done. They should give cars a place to park in the daytime instead of letting two-lane roads become one-lane roads.
Luu Tran Phuong Quynh, Vietnamese
Having a parking slot before someone buys a car is logical. If a person has a parking slot, the car will be safe. Besides, many pedestrians will be less annoyed because cars encroach on precious pavement space.
If people park their cars in inconvenient places, like the living room, their children won't have space to play or run around. A car is a big object and it needs a place to fit.
My family has a car and we had a lot of problems with the parking lot in the past.
Dang Quoc Minh, Vietnamese
I hope local authorities have plans to make a large public parking place so that everyone, who owns a car can have a parking slot. It will also ease the congestion and decrease the amount of cars on the street.
Le Thi Phuong Chau, Vietnamese
How can the local authorities prove that people actually have a parking lot before buying a car?
Hoang Phu, Vietnamese
It is ridiculous! I do not know why the city's authorities suggested the proposal. They cannot restrict the demand of people who want to own cars.
Dang Minh Quang, Vietnamese
I think the best way to restrict the number of cars is to raise import taxes and encourage people to travel by bus.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
My Vietnamese heart doctor friend in HCM City told me that one foreigner a month dies from a heart attack while stuck in traffic on the way to hospital. Conversely, I once quickly followed on bicycle behind a funeral procession that everyone made room for. Viet Nam's traffic behaviour is almost surreal with its inverted priorities.
HCM City is terribly congested. There are a number of traffic flow methods that could be adopted.
For example, restrict access to odd-even licence plate numbers in various areas and on different days like in some Latin American countries. The government could require construction, street cleaning and truck deliveries to take place overnight. Schools could alternate start/finish times by 30 minutes. At day's end when hundreds of motorbikes swarm to pick up kids, make them line up and leave in one direction only around the block. Better yet, kids can walk, cycle or take a bus. Finally, experiment with traffic light synchronization; initiate motorbike only roads; make more one-way streets; and study Tokyo, Mexico and New York as models. — VNS