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

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    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.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora