|Pavements in the capital city continue to be used in illegal ways despite serious opposition, causing traffic jams and creating safety hazards for pedestrians. — Photo doisongphapluat.com
HA NOI (VNS) — Pavements in the capital city continue to be used in illegal ways despite serious opposition, causing traffic jams and creating safety hazards for pedestrians.
These pavements on busy streets are meant to cater to pedestrians but have been turned into business centres instead. It is common to see stores encroach on the pavement or for it to be filled with mobile street vendors, particularly in business areas in Hoan Kiem, Hai Ba Trung and Ba Dinh districts.
The practice is also rampant on streets in the Old Quarter, such as Hang Dao, Hang Ma and Dinh Liet in Hoan Kiem, where the entire pavement is used to display clothes, footwear, wallets and cosmetics or to park their vehicles.
On these streets, promotional signs also make their way onto the road, and shoppers feel free to stop their vehicles in the middle of the road to negotiate prices.
On other streets, restaurants and tea shops turn the pavements into gathering places for people from all walks of life.
Government Decree 100 mandates that those streets which are permitted to use part of the pavement as a parking lot must leave a 1.5m-wide section of that pavement open to pedestrians. However, on many streets, the whole pavement is used as a parking lot.
The pedestrians, who legally have right of way, have no choice but to walk on the street, increasing the risk of traffic accidents.
A police report revealed that 122 traffic fatalities in 2015 were the result of pedestrians walking on the road.
Nguyen Thu Thuy, a resident in Hoan Kiem District, said, "We are forced to walk on the road, as the pavements on many streets are fully occupied, and this is very risky, particularly for the elderly and the children.
"On some streets, where pavements are occupied by restaurants or tea shops, customers often sit down to drink and talk until midnight, affecting nearby residents. After they leave, the pavements are filled with rubbish," she said.
Thuy added that the practice had also led to traffic congestion on these streets as it hindered traffic movement, particularly during peak hours.
Although local authorities have spared no effort in handling the situation, not much has changed.
Most of the district governments said they regularly inspected the roads and punished violators but violations continued to occur.
Head of Police of Phan Chu Trinh Ward in Hoan Kiem District Nguyen Tien Nong told the Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper that the local police was actively working with the authorised agencies to crack down on the illegal use of pavements, but many people kept violating the law because of the lure of huge profits.
Ineffective administrative penalties were also blamed for the situation. Under the current regulations, the heaviest fine for occupying roads and pavements is VND25 million (US$1,130).
Chairman of the municipal People's Committee Nguyen Duc Chung on Tuesday requested the authorised agencies to step up inspections to ensure the compliance with vehicle parking regulations and to completely stamp out illegal parking lots. — VNS