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City drivers fail to heed traffic safety month

Update: September, 17/2007 - 00:00

City drivers fail to heed traffic safety month


A traffic jam on Doi Can Street in Ha Noi. Traffic police say jams have increased in the country’s two major cities since the first week of September. — VNA/VNS Photo Tung Lam

HA NOI — September is Viet Nam’s traffic safety month but preliminary figures show that the message has fallen on deaf ears, especially in Ha Noi and HCM City.

Hospitals report no fall in the number of traffic deaths and injuries although complete statistics are not yet available.

And traffic police say jams have increased in the country’s two major cities since the first week of September.

Early figures show that 987 people were killed and 746 suffered serious and minor injures in more than 1,000 road accidents during August.

The numbers offer a glimmer of hope because they were slightly less than from the same month of last year.

Capital gridlock

In Ha Noi, major routes have been gripped in gridlock since September 1 – the beginning of the second month since Government Resolution 32 introduced a series of measures intended to curb the carnage.

Resident Le Thanh Hung complained that he spent almost three hours on Wednesday, September 5 and Monday, September 10, travelling the 12 km to his home in the southern Thanh Xuan District from his office in the central Hoan Kiem District.

"All the major roads to my home were blocked by cars and motorbikes," he said adding that the traffic jams had prevented him from collecting his son after school.

Hung managed to escape a major jam between Pham Ngoc Thach and Chua Boc streets but was halted in a narrower street because many others had chosen the same route.

"I saw a few traffic policemen but with so many vehicles and people they could do nothing," he said.

He was used to regular jams but not the snarl of those particular two days.

Immediate measures ordered

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung has instructed all ministries, government agencies, provincial administrations and the National Traffic Safety Committee to immediately activate traffic-safety measures.
Their job is to have the public understand the urgent measures of Government Resolution 32 effective from last month, he says in a letter sent last Friday.
This is to be done through outdoor advertisements, brochures, leaflets and slogans to warn that safety helmets will be compulsory for all motorbike riders and their passengers from December.
Government officials, public servants and Viet Nam Communist Party members in all government offices are required to set an example.
The Deputy Prime Minister asks the Public Security Ministry to increase patrols and inspections with the focus on speed, overloads, underage riders and drivers and unregistered transport vehicles.
Hung has instructed the Ministry of Education and Training, which has responsibility for about 22 million students, to focus on encouraging high school, college and university students to obey the traffic laws and practise traffic safety.
Appropriate ministries are responsible for the quality of safety helmets and the National Traffic Safety Committee has oversight and review of the programme.
Also on Friday, National Traffic Safety Committee chairman Ho Nghia Dung said eight working groups had been formed to start a massive inspection programme for implementation of Resolution 32.
The committee would first ask riders and passengers to wear helmets and then check on passenger transport including bus and boat.
Other issues such as traffic-law education; the checking of licence procedure and publicity campaigns would follow.— VNS

Ha Noi Public Security Department director Nguyen Duc Nhanh offered several explanations for the serious jams.

School had resumed and parents had to deliver and collect their children about the same time as officials and workers started or finished their day.

Heavy rain had caused floods and detours.

The easing of rules for the registration of new vehicles earlier in the year had prompted a rapid increase in the number of new motorbikes and cars on the city’s roads.

The city now had more than 2 million motorbikes and 200,000 cars and the new registration rules meant the numbers were unlikely to fall soon, Nhanh said.

The city also had many roads under construction with work way behind schedule.

Nhanh said measures to control the traffic chaos had included the doubling of registration fees for second vehicles; increased penalties for traffic violations and more and regular traffic patrols.

More patrols would force people to honour traffic laws that were usually ignored when drivers and riders thought they could avoid doing so.

The city administrators had proposed staggered hours for all workers and students but it was not known when the new system would be introduced.

HCM City

Similar jams are happening in HCM City where on many roads people can walk faster than those travelling by vehicle.

The Transport and Public Works Department reports that rush-hour traffic averages 3kph compared with 6-8kph off-peak.

The HCM City People’s Committee says transport infrastructure is overburdened from an increasing number of vehicles and by the number of immigrants who arrive each month to look for work.

Road Traffic Police say 280,000 motorbikes and 20,000 cars were registered in the first eight months of this year taking the number of vehicles travelling the city’s roads to 3.5 million.

Road building, or widening, including work on the drainage system, has contributed to the traffic jams.

Financial loss

Yearly financial losses from traffic jams will continue to grow, warns the dean of the HCM City University of Technology’s Transportation Technology Department, Pham Xuan Mai.

The prevailing yearly estimate was VND14,000 billion, about US$875 million, represented by lost time at work, medical costs due to pollution, and loss of profits.

Many city businesses say they lose money because of traffic bottlenecks.

"Motorbikes using the pavement in front of our shop prevent us from doing business in a normal way," said a clothing-shop owner on Nguyen Kiem Street, Go Vap District.

City officials say that more money has had to be spent to hire extra traffic police and volunteer youth who act as traffic wardens at street intersections.

Traffic Police commander Senior Lieutenant Colonel Pham Van Thinh says 500 volunteers will be assigned to city streets to control traffic because there are not enough police.

The policeman suggests that the People’s Committee reduces traffic jams by staggering working hours.

But traffic jams will continue at least until the subway is finished.

The work is scheduled for completion by 2020.


HCM City uses more waterborne transport than anywhere else in Viet Nam and a campaign to stiffen the regulations – punish violations and provide ferry passengers with safety gear – started this week.

The Transport Ministry’s Waterways Department director Tran Dac Suu, says the campaign is aimed at the promotion of positive changes among waterway commuters

About 70 per cent of the city’s goods are carried by water making it necessary to improve traffic-safety awareness among commuters, boat owners and crew.

The city has more than 200 landings, including overload jetties that berth a high density of cargo vessels, small boats and tourist craft.

The city’s water police and inspectors have toured the city’s docks and major waterways encouraging people to follow the safety regulations for themselves; their passengers and property.

Water police also inspected water craft for safety equipment and ownership registration in Vinh Long Province.

The province has more than 1,700km of waterways.

Its water police saythat although there were no serious accidents during the first eight months of this year, the possibility is high if safety regulations are ignored.

Patrols were also increased and the need for safety emphasised in central Nghe An where 19 students died in an accident on the water while going to school at this time last year. — VNS

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