Accidents during the recent Tet festival in the countryside have raised the alarm about road safety. Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang spoke with Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper about the issue.
Though the number of traffic accidents nationwide during the recent nine-day Tet festival fell by 60 cases in comparison to the previous year's festival, they remained high in the countryside. In your opinion, what were the causes?
The main reason was that in some localities, the authorities failed to pay due attention to the campaign of raising the people's awareness on road safety law and regulations as well as inspections and supervision activities.
I agreed that during the festival, elite force in traffic control did their jobs very well in main transport routes and road conjunctions.
However, on rural roads, due to the shortage of human and financial resources, carelessness of motor riders surged, including their passengers took advantages of the occasion to ignore road safety measures, did not wear the safety helmets, increased drinking. As a result, the number of road accidents climbed compared to the 2013 Tet festival. In addition, heavy traffic during the festival was another cause of the rise in traffic accidents.
Some people have lamented that traffic in the countryside is lawless. How do you respond to that?
Though many traffic accidents were reported in the countryside and mountainous region, I don't agree with such a groundless conclusion. Legal documents on traffic safety state very clearly about sanctions or fines imposed on traffic violations nationwide and responsibilities of authorities at the grassroots levels.
I'm confident that when the local authorities pay due attention to the work of road safety and the close co-ordination with traffic control agencies, road users will abide by the traffic law voluntarily and no doubt, traffic accidents will be curbed.
The government has invested quite a lot of money on developing urban transport infrastructure, including national and provincial roads. Does the government have any plan to invest in rural transport development?
Since 2008, the Ministry of Transport (MoT) has mobilised the Official Development Assistance (ODA) on many projects on rural road development and rehabilitation. By now some 5,160km and 17,000km of rural road of different categories have been constructed and rehabilitated respectively. In other words, rural road development has not been neglected.
In addition, the National Steering Committee for Traffic Safety (NSCTS) has worked closely with political and civil social organisations to further promote the awareness campaign on traffic safety for people living in the countryside.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Public Security has instructed police forces and communal police forces to get more involved in ensuring traffic safety in the countryside.
Will you please further elaborate on MoT's immediate and long-term measures to ensure traffic safety in rural areas?
The government has adopted a plan to allocate more funding by using the proceeds from the sales of government bonds to build motorbike roads connecting with communal centres nationwide.
Meanwhile MoT has mobilised the ODA fund to rehabilitate provincial roads. In a near future, MoT will co-ordinate with the Ministry of Construction and the Ministry of Finance to issue government bonds to raise money for rural transport infrastructure development on the principles of the government will provide cement while the local governments and people, including organisations and individuals contribute their money and work days to build the roads.
At a recent meeting, leaders from the three ministries have agreed to submit the proposal "Building Rural Transport Bridges" to the Prime Minister. I hope the PM will soon give the green light to the proposal.
Last but not least, the NSCTS will focus its activities in raising the awareness on traffic safety for the population living in the countryside, with focus on young people and school children. Parallel with these activities, the NSCTS will work closely with political and civil social organisations to aggregate their strengths to ensure traffic safety for everybody. — VNS