|National Highway 37 from Vĩnh Bảo District in the northern port city of Hải Phòng to Hải Dương Province’s Gia Lộc District has fallen into disrepair. Poor infrastructure and limited road maintenance have been blamed for traffic accidents. — VNA/VNS Photo Hiền Anh
Traffic safety is becoming an increasingly pressing issue, especially on the roads and railways. Vietnam News Agency speaks to Minister of Transport Nguyễn Văn Thể about solutions to solve this problem.
Can you update us about the traffic situation, particularly serious road traffic accidents?
Although the number of traffic accidents is decreasing, the severity of those accidents is increasing. We have an increasing number of vehicles but infrastructure has not been able to keep up.
In terms of traffic safety, in 2018 we did not achieve the target set by the Government. The number of traffic accidents fell by 7.1 per cent and the number of injuries dropped by 13 per cent, but the number of deaths fell by only 0.4 per cent, while the target was 5 per cent.
As for the cause of traffic accidents, I think despite the fact many people have passed their driving tests, some still break laws by intentionally crossing the red lights, drinking alcohol or using drugs and other stimulants.
In addition, some drivers involved in serious accidents had health problems, while others were too tired at the wheel.
The Ministry of Transport plans to issue new regulations regarding the responsibility of the owners of vehicles, specifically transport businesses. Punishments will be tougher for drivers who cause serious accidents, and they might even have their driving licences revoked.
The Ministry of Transport is also aware of poor infrastructure. Road maintenance has not met the demand, leading to the risk of accidents.
The ministry has instructed the Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam to issue regulations on the management and maintenance of the national highway system this quarter.
We will report to the National Assembly and Government on the situation and solutions to strengthen the maintenance of national highways.
The ministry recognises that road maintenance is one of its most important tasks because it directly affects travel, production and business.
Besides road traffic accidents, the railway industry also witnessed many accidents in 2018. Does the Ministry of Transport have any solutions to curb these?
Regarding railway safety, the Ministry of Transport is also very concerned. We all know the current railway system is very weak. One of the manifestations of this is that there are still more than 5,700 intersections between railways and road. Of these, there are over 1,500 crossings between railroads and roads that cars, bikes and pedestrians can pass through.
This makes it very difficult to manage railway safety.
The ministry has instructed the Việt Nam Railways to build a safety plan including a series of solutions focused on solving crossings where cars and other vehicles can travel. To handle these intersections, we can build overpasses or bypasses. In addition, we have also asked local authorities to establish self-managed and voluntary teams of people on railways crossings to co-ordinate safety.
Another important solution is to increase the application of information technology to closely monitor crossings and intersections, especially those with heavy traffic. The ministry will also direct the railway industry to arrange more lights, warning signs, speaker systems and automatic barriers to enhance traffic safety.
The ministry is also developing a proposal for a high-speed railway project running along the coast, which will basically address the shortcomings of the current railway industry. Crossings will be eliminated. When the high-speed rail project is operational, railway safety will be absolutely guaranteed.
Under the direction of the Government, the ministry will ask for the National Assembly’s approval to invest in this project.
Technical problems in the aviation sector as well as some complications regarding aviation security have been highlighted recently. What solutions are being implemented to tackle this?
Safety related issues with aviation security can be divided into two groups. The first group concerns the technical quality of aircraft.
According to procedures, before each flight, each aircraft must be checked and can only take off once all technical requirements are approved.
The second group is the pilot team. We have both Vietnamese and foreign pilots, so the ministry will strengthen testing and dealing with pilots with professional problems.
The Ministry of Transport has assigned the Civil Aviation Administration of Việt Nam to co-ordinate with international aviation organisations such as the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), aircraft manufacturers (Boeing, Airbus) to find the cause of each incident, and find out specific solutions.
Under the direction of the Government, the issue of absolute safety and security will have to be strengthened and managed more closely. The ministry will strictly deal with the crew, flight management agencies, airports and other related agencies if incidents occur.
For airlines involved in multiple incidents, the ministry will conduct special monitoring.
In summary, the Ministry of Transport will handle incidents with stricter penalties so people feel secure on every means of transport.
Regarding Bamboo Airways, which has just been given approval for commercial operations, the ministry consulted the Civil Aviation Administration of Việt Nam before granting commercial permits. — VNS