|All traffic policemen in Ha Noi City will be on duty round-the-clock on key dates to ensure road safety in and around the city during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday, according to local officials. — VNA/VNS Photo Doan Tan
HA NOI (VNS) — Traffic police will be deployed in greater numbers at congestion hotspots and pressed into service round-the-clock on key days in order to ensure order and road safety in and around the capital city during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.
Municipal transport authorities have also said that inspections will be stepped up and violations strictly dealt with.
The Ha Noi People's Committee has required the capital city's Department of Transport as well as its traffic police to focus on areas where large numbers of people are prone to gather, including flower markets, the city's gateways and sites that host traditional festivals.
Colonel Dao Vinh Thang, head of the Ha Noi Traffic Police Department, said their personnel would work through the night before and after the Tet holiday to ensure smooth traffic flows and crackdown on traffic violations in the city.
All traffic policemen in the city would be mobilised to be on duty round-the-clock on weekends and on Lunar New Year's Eve (January 30), to avoid illegal street racing, he said.
He said more female traffic police officers will be posted at five major junctions.
On certain roads that lead to downtown Ha Noi, including Pham Van Dong, Pham Hung, Thang Long Bolevard, Phap Van and Ngo Gia Tu , restrictions will be placed on all vehicles between January 15 and February 16. For instance, trucks with carrying capacities of 1.2 tonnes or more would be banned during rush hours, Thang said.
Traffic violations that are likely to increase during the holiday, including driving without helmets, drunk driving and speeding will be strictly dealt with, he added.
Tight controls will be maintained on taxis operating in the capital city, Hoang Van Manh, deputy chief inspector of the city's Department of Transport, said.
The hotlines would be manned round-the-clock to receive feedback from customers, he said.
He said many passengers have called the hotlines recently to complain about overcharging taxi drivers.
For example, one passenger had to pay VND420,000 ($20) instead of VND280,000 ($13) to a Thanh Loi taxi driver to go from Kim Lien Street to the My Dinh Bus Station. The driver was forced to refund the excess fare and had his vehicle seized for ten days after the passenger called the hotline, Manh said.
He also said traffic inspectors and police officers would fine taxi drivers who turned off the taxi sign on their vehicles, installed electronic chips to overcharge customers, or carried no telephone numbers on the vehicles. Taxi drivers will be fined and can even have their licenses revoked depending on their violations, he said.
The Ha Noi People's Committee has also asked the department of transport, traffic police and other agencies to watch out for and deter those seeking to impersonate war invalids in order to use modified three-wheeled vehicles. The results of such inspections are to be reported to the committee before January 30.
*Taxicomplaint hotlines: 04.38217922 or 0913587191 or 0989737767
Steep increase in bus fares
At least 16 enterprises in Ha Noi have announced that they are increasing bus ticket prices by as much as 60 per cent for the Tet (Lunar New Year) Festival, ignoring authorities' requests to refrain from doing so.
They have blamed the price hike on increasing petrol prices, and said that it will help them improve service quality, especially for the holidays when travel demand increases significantly and all passenger buses are typically overloaded.
Ly Truong Son, a representative of the Ha Noi Coach Station Management Company, said that four enterprises at the Giap Bat Bus Station have raised their fares by between 40-60 per cent on routes from Ha Noi to other cities and provinces.
For example, the fare for the Ha Noi-Mien Dong Bus Station (HCM City) route would be VND1.2 million ($56) instead of VND860,000 ($40); and for the Ha Noi-Nam Dinh route will be VND100,000 ($4.7) instead of VND70,000 ($3.3). Prices for the Ha Noi-Da Nang route, which attracts many passengers, would go up from VND380,000 ($18) to VND610,000 ($29).
Nguyen Manh Tuan, deputy director of My Dinh Bus Station, said nine enterprises have announced 12-18 per cent increases in their bus fares. The price of a ticket from Ha Noi to the northern province of Ninh Binh, would go up by VND90,000-200,000 ($4.2-9.5), he said.
Three enterprises at the Nuoc Ngam Bus Station have also raised fares on routes from Ha Noi to the central province of Nghe An Province and the Central Highlands province of Gia Lai by as much as 40 per cent. They have said the new prices will apply from now until the middle of February.
An official of the Ha Noi Bus Station said other enterprises are likely to increase their ticket prices in the coming days and the station managers can do nothing about it.
He said current regulations allow transport enterprises to increase ticket prices after three days after they report their new prices to the departments of transport and finance and receive no response from these agencies.
He cited as an example the Thuan Phat Transport Company, that has obtained approval from the Nam Dinh Department of Transport to raise its fares. The station has no choice to sell tickets at the new prices, because it has no say in the matter.
Nguyen Hong Thu, a resident of Cau Giay District in the capital city, said bus ticket prices always rose before the holiday as immigrants like her returned to their hometown for Tet.
"The price is always expensive, but the service quality is much worse than on normal days," she said.
"Last year, the bus to my hometown in Thanh Hoa Province was so overcrowded that I had to stand on one foot the whole way."
"I'm willing to pay more if the quality is better. If not, they just are just making huge profits at our expense," she said. — VNS