Deputy Head of Viet Nam Register, Nguyen Huu Tri, speaks to Viet Nam News about the move to inspect motorbike exhaust fumes
This is not the first time that Viet Nam Register has proposed mandatory inspection of motorbike exhaust. Why do you re-start the proposal?
In 2010, the Prime Minister gave the green light for developing a project on limiting motorbike exhaust levels in an attempt to reduce air pollution. However, the project could not be implemented for various reasons. Firstly, it's a complicated social issue as it involves millions of motorbike users who opposed the move, citing that they are already paying many fees. Secondly, Viet Nam underwent an economic slowdown in the past few years and State-budget spending tightened, plus inadequate public transportation hindered the efforts to limit the number of private vehicles. Viet Nam Register recently created another proposal, with a road map for controlling motorbike emissions starting from 2018. We expect that better communication and economic condition can help realise the proposal.
Motorbike is still the most popular mode of transport in Vietnamese cities, particularly Ha Noi and HCM City, where the number of motorbikes accounts for a quarter of the total number of motorbikes in the country. Motorbike exhaust fumes are a major source of air pollution in cities, but currently, Viet Nam does not require periodical checks on motorbike emissions.
Viet Nam Register has proposed that motorbike owners conduct emissions checks on their vehicles every two years. The scheme, if adopted, will be launched in Da Nang in July 2018 and expanded to other major cities – Ha Noi, Hai Phong, HCM City, and Can Tho – two years later.
We expect to start gauging emissions from motorbikes over ten years old in Da Nang City from 2018, while motorbikes over five years old in the city will go through emissions checks from July 2019.
Some people doubt the feasibility of the proposal, saying Viet Nam has yet to effectively manage exhaust fumes from about two million automobiles, while it has 40 million motorcycles. Do you think it's just an ambitious plan to control motorcycle emissions?
Viet Nam has made achievements in limiting emissions thanks to emissions testing for automobiles. It's not a matter of number. We outline the road map to implement the project based on our ability. That is the reason why we have proposed a pilot run in Da Nang, before expanding to four other cities. Motorbikes in use for 10 years will be required to undergo emissions tests before those in use for five years.
From the experiences of other countries, we know it is a long road to controlling motorbike exhaust fumes. For examples, Taiwan has about 13 million motorcycles and motorbikes in circulation. It kicked off a tests and maintenance programme with non-mandatory checks in 1993. Mandatory inspections were first carried out in eight cities in January1996, expanded to 15 cities later that year, and finally covered all the 23 cities by 2001. Since then, the country has strengthened its inspection system and upgraded computer networks.
Why do you base the criteria for undergoing emissions inspections on the age of motorbikes?
Many factors, such as technologies, driving skills, and maintenance, can affect a vehicle's emissions. Almost all of the vehicles are in good condition within the first three years in use. They are always tested before they are sold and manufacturers usually offer maintenance and post-sale services.
We have proposed mandatory emissions checks for motorbikes in use for five years because those vehicles are likely to degrade if they are not maintained properly. Checks can encourage timely maintenance.
Motorbike owners complain that they are forced to pay many kinds of fees. Exhaust tests will be an additional burden on them. What do you think?
We have now submitted that a motorbike owner has to pay about VND 100,000 –150,000 (US$4-7) for testing motorbike exhaust fumes each year. The State will use this revenue to procure facilities and pay salaries to labourers working at motorbike-exhaust-fume verification centres.
When a motorbike owner takes his/her vehicle to a centre to get an exhaust fumes test, the fee paid to the centre will become part of the maintenance fee.
Viet Nam Register has proposed (to the Government) to spend part of environmental protection tax to cover exhaust fumes tests. So, drivers will not have to pay directly to maintenance agents. We are also seeking financial support from international organisations.
It is scheduled to assign motorbike maintenance agents of major firms, including Honda, Yamaha, and SYM, to open centres for testing motorbike exhaust fumes.
Maintenance agents are expected to meet the necessary standards of facilities for verifying motorbike exhaust fumes. A motorbike will be given a quality stamp right after a test and will be maintained to meet the requirements of motorbike exhaust fumes by agents.
To monitor these agents, we'll be observing them via cameras and the statistics of the numbers of motorbikes tested.
We have yet to discuss the matter with agents and shall do it soon and hope to receive their cooperation. — VNS