Tuesday,  Sep 25, 2018,07:51 (GMT+7) 0 0
Is there a way out for traffic woes?
The Saigon Times Daily
Sunday,  Feb 25, 2018,21:48 (GMT+7)

Is there a way out for traffic woes?

The Saigon Times Daily

All gateways to HCMC over the past week have been almost crammed as people returned for work in droves after a long holiday, just like the scene in the middle of the month just ahead of the Lunar New Year break when the city saw an exodus of migrant workers heading home. It’s no wonder traffic accidents have surged this month, with hundreds killed during the week-long holiday.

Data from traffic police show as many as 220 major accidents took place during the holiday, killing 195 people and injuring hundreds of others. Traffic woes, needless to say, have for years been a nightmare for passengers, and a big headache for policy-makers despite great efforts to improve traffic safety.

It has never been easy to tackle the problem, though the root cause of such traffic woes is readily seen. Besides poor public awareness on traffic safety, experts have pointed out that it is the inadequate traffic infrastructure versus the fast-rising number of vehicles that makes traffic come from bad to worse.

Take two expressways connecting HCMC with neighboring localities, namely the HCMC-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway and the HCMC-Trung Luong Expressway, for example. Vehicles are seen taking all traffic lanes, with little space left between them, though drivers have been warned to keep distance, at a minimum of 100 meters between every two vehicles when travelling at high speed. Adhering to such a warning is unthinkable, given the huge number of vehicles on these two expressways. If the distance is maintained as advised, long lines of vehicles will get jammed at both ends of the roads.

At a traffic conference in Hanoi in September, the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam reported that Vietnam’s road system consisted of 21,100 km of national highway and 28,900 km of provincial road, plus narrow district roads in rural areas. The directorate’s data also showed the nation had 3.2 million automobiles and 49 million motorcycles. While the road system has barely been expanded, vehicular traffic growth rates have been high, at 6.5% a year for autos and 7.3% for motorcycles.

The National Assembly in a resolution in late 2017 approved a program of 11 projects to develop 654 km of expressway in 2017-2020, including eight to be developed under the build-operate-transfer format. The State budget will account for one-third of the total VND120 trillion needed for these projects. Such investment is still just a drop in the ocean.

To deal with this traffic headache, there must be huge financial resources to develop more roads, and perhaps a more viable way is to use revenues from transport means themselves. Annual revenues from automobile taxes and fees may amount to some US$5 billion, so a sizeable proportion of this sum could be used for road upgrade and development.

A more developed road system will be highly beneficial to the economy in various aspects, including lower logistics costs and better safety for the people. Otherwise, traffic woes will remain a deadlocked problem, hindering economic development and putting people’s lives at risk as seen during the Lunar New Year holiday.

The Saigon Times Daily

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