News / Asia

Vietnam Curbs Traffic to Improve Safety, Air Quality

FILE - A motorist talks on his mobile phone while waiting at a traffic junction in Hanoi in this 2011 photo.
FILE - A motorist talks on his mobile phone while waiting at a traffic junction in Hanoi in this 2011 photo.
— Vietnam is attempting to combat the traffic-related problems of crashes and smog.
 
Traffic accidents are a leading killer here, especially among teenagers.
 
Roughly 14,000 Vietnamese die each year after a crash, putting this nation of 90 million among the top 10 countries to suffer road-related deaths, according to Bloomberg Philanthropies.
 
That figure could come down as Vietnam experiments with ways to get more vehicles off the road and more pollutants out of the air.
 
The Ministry of Transport has introduced a raft of proposals, from restricting car access to downtown areas, to investing in more sidewalks and electric vehicles, to changing some school and work hours.
 
That last option, which is meant to reduce traffic during peak hours, has already rolled out in parts of Hanoi, but would expand to Ho Chi Minh City. Each city has more than seven million residents.
 
Trinh Van Chinh, a consultant for the transport ministry, said the change in hours is inconvenient but necessary.
 
“We have to help people understand better that this problem is really urgent.” Chinh said in an interview at the Ho Chi Minh City University of Transport, where he also teaches.
 
Planners hope that by staggering business and school hours, they could cut traffic accidents by as much as 10 percent and cut traffic jams by 30 percent.
 
Some have criticized and even poked fun at the policy.
 
Unclogging congestion
 
But Akira Hosomi, who is helping Vietnam build a metro system through the Japan International Consultants for Transportation, said the policy can succeed because he has seen similar ideas work elsewhere. He said that Singapore charges metro-goers less during non-peak hours in order to control congestion.
 
Besides bringing the country’s first subway system online in the next few years, the transport ministry wants to get more Vietnamese to use city buses.
 
In its latest proposals, it suggesting lower fares and free parking at key transit points where commuters could hop onto buses. Signs have gone up around Ho Chi Minh City, urging residents to take the bus.
 
This would require weaning drivers off the motorbike.
 
In Vietnam, unlike more industrialized parts of Asia, the motorbike still rules the road. That means drivers here are more exposed to pollution, Hosomi said, not to mention collisions.
 
“I think the air pollution in Vietnam, specifically Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, is getting more serious day by day,” he said.
 
Hosomi added that the wide availability of cheap fuel contributes to smog. So do four-wheel cars, which is why the government aims to limit them in city centers and charge drivers a fee to go downtown. Officials also want to promote electric vehicles.
 
Car importers balk
 
But Horst Herdtle said that shouldn’t mean discouraging traditional cars. Herdtle is CEO of Euro Auto, which imports BMW cars to Vietnam.
 
He said his cars meet such tough European emission standards before coming to Vietnam that “probably a water buffalo emits more harmful substances than a passenger car.”
 
The government will have an even tougher time controlling vehicles after 2018, when it’ll have to forgo import duties for vehicles from within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
 
The change is part of further regional integration, including an Asean Economic Community that kicks off in 2015. Vietnam halved the auto import taxes this year which used to mean a buyer paid as much as twice the sticker price of a car.
 
At the same time, Vietnam has succeeded in some of its mass-media traffic campaigns. A push for drivers to wear helmets has resulted in a 90-percent compliance rate, according to the World Health Organization.
 
Billboards remind drivers that “Safety comes first” or that this is the “Year of Traffic Safety.”
 
But environmentalist Phan Ha Vy said there aren’t enough campaigns that look beyond safety to include the environment.
 
“There’s so much pollution because people aren’t conscious about the environment,” Vy said.
 
VY lives in Ho Chi Minh City but grew up in Vung Tau, a beach town three hours southeast. She said the streets back home were far cleaner, less crowded; she was more likely to walk outside. Now she rides a motorbike.
 
“Even if I go for a walk here, there’s too much dust,” she said. “So I really don’t want to go out, it’s hard to tolerate.”
 
Most Vietnamese deal with the pollution by donning masks.
 
Many go for walks and exercise outside at the crack of dawn when there are fewer vehicles and the smog hasn’t set in.

You May Like

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sannidhi from: Hyderabad, India
February 04, 2014 7:23 AM
This is a problem not only with the Vietnam but, around the world. To curb pollution and traffic jams, I think immediate solution is to use public transport(which drastically reduces) and, where it's not possible, it's better if we travel together with others in same vehicle. If 2 people(who drive separate motor bikes) travel in same vehicle, there will be 1 less motor bike on road and hence pollution is 50% lesser. I wonder how much can Govt. and officials do? I think, it's the responsibility of general public too. As people may travel on motor bike, car and cab/taxi, this is where JoinNTravel helps a lot. MUCH BEYOND CARPOOL CONCEPT AND OFFICE HOURS, JoinNTravel is an online platform to help travelers connect with others going by MOTORBIKE, CAR and even by CAB/TAXI! It's 100% free! @ https://joinntravel.com

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid