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Bus drivers shun new rest stops

Update: September, 06/2009 - 00:00

Bus drivers shun new rest stops


Programme set up to curb problems.

Buses stopped at Lac Long Rest Stop on National Highway No5. New rest stops with modern facilities have been set up to accommodate travellers.— VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Thu

HA NOI — Passenger buses continue to avoid new rest stops that have been set up to offer a safe and comfortable travelling experience, according to the Ministry of Communication and Transportation.

Some of the bus drivers and passengers have complained about the services offered at the new roadside stations.

In March, the ministry began working with the Viet Nam Road Agency and the Japanese International Co-operation Agency to set up the roadside station initiative nationwide.

Thus far, three northern provinces, Ninh Binh, Bac Giang and Hoa Binh, have each built one roadside station, which offers meals, drinks, sanitation services and small parks for taking a walk.

The ministry’s roadside station programme was set up to help reduce corruption that exists between bus drivers and restaurants located along national highways.

Many drivers of passenger buses stop at the restaurants to accept free meals from them.

In addition, travel agencies often demand that buses stop at a specific time to allow passengers a rest, thus requiring an unavoidable stop at some of these facilities.

Many of these restaurants along national highways offer poor services at exorbitant prices, and often allow entrance only through a fenced area.

Some of them have physically assaulted travellers who refused to purchase food or meals, the ministry has said.

Vu The Binh, director of the National Administration of Tourism’s travel department, said the lack of professional roadside stations had hindered the development of tourism along the nation’s highways for many years.

The three roadside stations were built with Government and JICA funds, but the stations were expected to operate independently and earn their own revenue.

However, the managers of the stations, who are government employees, said sales were too low to cover all expenses, including electricity and water costs.

Yahusiro Tojo, deputy senior representative of JICA in Viet Nam, said financial support from the Government, businesses and investors was needed. Citing Japan’s experience with managing 850 roadside stations since 1993, Yahusiro said JICA would offer training to road station staff to improve services.

Nguyen Van Thanh, deputy director of the Viet Nam Road Agency, said the Government should create a policy to offer subsidies to the new roadside stations, citing national roadway laws that contain provisions on such stations.

Dinh Thi Lan, manager of one of the stations in Hoa Binh Province, said inter-provincial buses were bypassing the station, and only local buses stopped to buy food and take a rest.

Dang Van Mieu, deputy director of Ninh Binh Bus Station Enterprise, said the roadside station there was located behind houses which were supposed to have been moved or destroyed. The house owners have refused to participate in site clearance, he said.

"How can passengers feel comfortable when they can’t access the restroom or facility?" he said, adding that drivers must take a side route to enter the station premises.

Nguyen Binh Minh, a driver on the Ha Noi-Ninh Binh route, said the meals were not good at the station, and that passengers had complained about poor services from waiters.

Workers at the Bac Giang Province station said they offer quality services, but many passengers eat at other restaurants nearby and use the station for sanitation services and its park.

Officials in Hoa Binh and Bac Giang provinces have told station mangers to outline new business plans to improve services.

Dinh Thi Lan, manager of Hoa Binh’s station, said she was asking for financial support from the province. — VNS

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