Viet Nam News
HCM CITY – The proposal by the Innovative Technology Development (ITD) Corporation to build tollbooths around the HCM City centre has been met with criticism from experts working in various fields.
The original plan called for tolls to be collected from 6am-9am and 4pm-7pm, with charges of VNĐ40,000 (US$1.7) for private cars, VNĐ30,000 for taxis, and VNĐ50,000 for trucks.
The plan was expected to encourage use of public transport such as buses and metro lines (now undergoing construction) to relieve traffic congestion in central HCM City.
The city’s People’s Committee, which approved the proposal in April, planned to begin construction of 36 automatic tollbooths next year, but is now reconsidering the plan.
Dr Phạm Sanh, a transport specialist, was quoted as saying in Người Lao Động (The Labourer) newspaper that while some countries charged tolls for entering city centres, HCM City was a different case because of its road system.
He said that some drivers might only want to pass by the city centre instead of entering it, meaning they would have to move along the small ring road around the city.
The increased concentration of vehicles on such small roads would cause more traffic congestion around the city centre, he added.
Due to the controversy caused by the proposal, the Việt Nam Fatherland Front Committee on Wednesday held a conference in District 1 for different parties to debate the effectiveness of the tollbooth plan. Many experts questioned the plan’s viability.
Đồng Văn Khiêm, a member of Việt Nam Fatherland Front Committee’s Advisory Council, pointed out that the proposal did not address the rising costs of delivering goods in and out of the city centre, meaning the price of goods could increase, especially in districts 1 and 3.
He said that Việt Nam’s public transport needed improvement as there were few metro lines being built in the city, and buses were still seen as an unreliable way to travel to work every day.
This would leave motorbikes as the most likely replacement for cars if tollbooths are set up. But considering the disregard of traffic rules by many drivers, the traffic situation may not improve, according to Khiêm.
Meanwhile, according to Associate Professor Nguyễn Lê Ninh, only six per cent of land in HCM City centre is used for roads (compared to the common ratio of around 20 per cent in other countries).
Addressing the lack of roads may be a more viable solution than the setting up of tollbooths, Ninh said, adding that he also questioned ITD’s method of calculation and how it concluded that deterring cars would help solve traffic congestion in the city centre.
He said that while the toll of VNĐ40,000-50,000 was not high and likely would not deter him from using cars to enter the city’s centre, many taxi drivers and tour buses opposed the plan.
However, Lâm Thiếu Quân, chairman of ITD’s board of directors, said that large trucks transporting goods were only allowed to travel into the city centre from 10pm-5am, which is outside the tollbooths’ time frame for toll collection, meaning the cost of goods would not change.
In addition, by limiting the number of cars entering the city centre, more roads would be available for buses, which would be a step in improving the public transport system, according to Quân.
Despite the criticism, Quân said the proposal was still a good option to relieve traffic, save time, and ultimately boost productivity.
He noted that the tollbooth plan was only an initial proposal and that ITD would spend more time revising the plan and gathering more views from different industries and specialists. – VNS