Associate Professor Nguyễn Văn Hùng, former rector of the Hà Nội University of Civil Engineering, talks to Khoa học và Đời Sống (Science and Life) Newspaper about effective measures to tackle traffic jams in Hà Nội.
What do you think about the contest announced by the city’s Department of Transport earlier this month to find new solutions for Hà Nội’s traffic problems?
I think the organisation of such contest should be welcomed, since it shows city authorities are paying attention to the traffic issues. Traffic jams are now a concern for everybody living in the city. It’s also a pressing topic for most major cities worldwide, and an obvious consequence of the urbanisation process.
But the contest gives people only three days to submit their ideas. It’s like playing a game – no one can think of a serious project that can tackle such a complicated issue in such a short period of time. I also think that the problem can’t be solved from the initiative of one individual – it requires the efforts and thoughts of many complex measures.
Can you elaborate on this?
To tackle the issue of traffic jams, it would require transport experts and authorities and other relevant agencies to work together. We also need certain accurate databases, such as spots of frequent traffic jams, the time when traffic jams happen, and the cause of traffic jams at these spots. Information must be collected via a variety of channels and supplied to experts. Experts would even be willing to work for free, I can be sure, because this problem has been such a pain in the neck. No one would bother contributing efforts if they can and they are asked to do it, as long as we are able to gather competent experts.
Is this true? Would it be that easy?
I didn’t say it would be easy. It would actually be a tough task. But the current traffic problem can only be solved by a complex solution with the involvement of infrastructure planners, transport experts, and those who research and study the travelling habits of people. To change the current traffic situation, it’s like waging a revolution, and a revolution can only be successful with the effective involvement of many parties.
If asked, would you be willing to join? And work for free?
Certainly! Many people will be willing to contribute not for the sake of money. I will be happy to do that.
Money is important to tackle such a problem, but that’s not all. We also need competent people to do it. The transport sector won’t be able to address this problem simply by unwise and scattered planning. For instance, high apartment buildings are built everywhere, tens of thousands of people are living in the same area, the traffic sector alone can’t deal with this problem.
Do you have any of your own ideas about this issue?
I think we should make full advantage of the Internet: those who only need to work online can stay at home and work. Trucks and containers should only be allowed to enter the cities at night, roads where there are many residential buildings should be expanded.
Public transport should also be improved and well-planned. We’ll need a lot of money and time in order to do this. Measures can be considered such as banning motorbikes and promoting bikes and electric cars, but these take time to implement.--VNS