Last week, Viet Nam News asked for readers' opinions on Ha Noi's decision to ban taxis from certain crowded streets during peak hours before and after Tet in the hope that it might lessen traffic congestion.
Here are some of the replies:
Khut Sokhoeun, Cambodian, Phnom Penh
Last year, I travelled to Ha Noi several times and noticed the differences between traffic there and in Phnom Penh.
My first impression was of the large numbers of motorbikes and taxis - and the busy roads. Many people drive motorbikes, but only some of them drive cars. Because of the high price of cars in Viet Nam, taxis play an important role.
In contrast, in Phnom Penh, the number of cars and motorbikes are similar. However, people in your city seem to have more respect for traffic laws than those in the Cambodian capital. But, during rush hour, the roads became busier, just like in Phnom Penh.
One thing I noticed in Viet Nam was that the taxis drove fast and kept blowing their horns, why, I don't know, because no one seemed to take any notice. Taxis in Phnom Penh are slower but the road death toll is still high. Most of those killed are on motorbikes.
In Phnom Penh, taxis are less popular than motorbikes and tuk tuks. But in Ha Noi, taxis are a main means of transport, so I don't think they should be banned, especially during big holidays.
Talbot Phipps-Ockington, British, Ha Noi
Well I ride a motorbike, which I find convenient and easy. I do occasionally catch a cab, but I have been ripped off so many times, I do so only as a last resort. I also think taxi drivers are a menace on the roads.
They are rude, and aggressive drivers, so banning them from a few streets in the Old Quarter, even for just a few days, I think is a good thing.
Personally, I think they should pedestrianise the whole of the Old Quarter, or follow the example set by London and New York City and make drivers pay a congestion charge for driving into the area.
The Old Quarter is small, and foreign visitors certainly would not baulk at having to walk a few more yards to find a taxi, and it would make strolling along the narrow streets in the city centre far more pleasurable.
If pedestrianising the Old Quarter inconveniences a few taxi drivers, so be it. There are far too many taxis plying the roads of the capital as it is. Like I said, they drive aggressively, hoot their horns all the time and are a menace to other road users.
Only the other day a friend of mine's wife was knocked over by a taxi that swerved in front of her to pick up a fare. After knocking her off her bike, and dislocating her arm, he sped off. The man who had hailed the taxi ended up taking her to hospital. And I have heard far sadder tales than that.
So all things considered, I am strongly in favour of barring taxis from the designated streets in the Old Quarter.
Nguyen Thu Hoai, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
We have a two-year-old child and I would have to stay at home during Tet if taxis were banned from reaching Tay Son Street. Oh, no! I don't wish that, because it's impossible for me to take my child out by motorbike in such chilly weather. What should I do now? Buy a car? No, it's far beyond my affordability.
Ahh, I've got it. I will hire a four-seater-car during the holiday. It would not be too expensive and it would be very convenient for my family. Most importantly, I suppose, it is not a taxi.
You Asked, published on Tuesdays, gives readers an opportunity to ask Viet Nam News questions which are then responded to each week.
Your Say, published every Friday, enables readers to express opinions on a topic or issue raised by the editor.
According to a Government plan approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung earlier this month, cash payments will make up less than 11 per cent of all transactions in Viet Nam by the end of 2015, down from the current figure of 14 per cent.
The plan also seeks to double the number of people with bank accounts to 40 per cent of the population over the next four years, improve the transparency of transactions in Viet Nam and reduce cash-related risks such as robbery or damage to currency. The move is also expected to improve the efficiency of the country's banking system and state management.
However, these measures must overcome the country's cash culture and inadequate infrastructure and technology to reduce the amount of cash payments.
As someone travelling in Viet Nam or working here, do you find it inconvenient to carry and pay with cash for most transactions? What do you think about the cash culture of Vietnamese people? What efforts do you think Viet Nam could initiate to reduce risks associated with non-cash transactions?
Emails should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org – or by fax to (84-4) 3 933 2311. Letters can be sent to The Editor, Viet Nam News, 11 Tran Hung Dao Street, Ha Noi. Replies to this week's question must be received by Thursday morning, January 12.
While this may be my solution, I still strongly oppose the taxi ban. It does nothing but causes more trouble for residents. There are a lot of shopping centres and markets in my neighbourhood such as Parkson, Tran Anh and Pico. Thousands of customers will have to use their private vehicles to get there instead of taxis as usual. The number of vehicles will double or treble. So where should they park? This surely will cause more congestion.
Moreover, if I and other residents wish to catch a taxi from some place to home, we will have to take a long walk because taxis may have to stop far from my neighbourhood. It's not fair!
Banning is not the solution. It would be much better if more policemen and volunteers were allocated to hot traffic spots during the Tet holiday to direct traffic and make sure drivers obey traffic rules.
Ploenpote Atthakor, Thai, Ha Noi
Banning taxis from busy streets during Tet seems to be a good solution for Ha Noi and other big cities, but what happens if someone in these banned streets, a pregnant woman who's going to give birth for instance, needs a car to the hospital?
How could a big ambulance squeeze into a crowded street to pick you up? Impossible! A motorbike taxi? No, they're just too dangerous. Walking the whole long street to get a bus? I don't think the proposal is serious.
If taxis are banned at certain times and in certain areas, there must be other means of transport - and public transport in Viet Nam remains limited. Authorities should take note of this.
In Thailand, taxis are a common means of transport and are rarely banned except for walking streets.
Nick Do, Vietnamese, Ha Noi
As an everyday taxi-hailer, the news about taxis being bannedfrom some of Ha Noi's main streets during this Tet holiday has me worried.
Walking has never been convenient in this town, and xe om 's, everyone's favourite means to travel around, has become unreasonably pricey. There are some amazingly cheap and reliable taxi operators in Ha Noi, especially Thanh Nga, the taxi company that I actually miss every time I leave town. Now it's the holiday season, when you actually have to move around a lot to do all the necessary shopping and make a lot of visits. And they ban taxis from main streets!
It's like they're telling everyone who doesn't own a private vehicle to stay away from downtown. Why?
Whatever the reason they have for this ban, I still believe that it's SUPER unfair to ban only taxis and nothing else, like the taxis are the only ones to blame for all the traffic problems in this town. Yes, many taxi drivers are careless, but so are most of the drivers of other cars in this town, where I have learnt that you can buy your driving license, or in fact, drive a car without a license as most of my friends who own a car do. Don't even mention the motorbike drivers, who don't have any idea about things called "lanes". The traffic in Ha Noi is a mess and instead of giving out short-term bans and such things, which I believe will solve nothing but just make people's life a little harder over a short period of time, we need SERIOUS long-term plans that, first and foremost, help raise the awareness of all drivers about traffic, road manners and safety. And I really hope that the Government will eventually understand that when you have the power to control, then use it wisely. — VNS