By Son Nguyen in HCMC
Needless to say, tackling traffic chaos in Hanoi is the expectancy for not only the city dwellers but also visitors who all are wearisome over the nightmare of going around in the capital city. The determination on the part of Hanoi authorities is strong, and they have been prescribing bitter drugs to restore traffic order in the city, from the launch last month of the staggering school and working hours – which has prompted outcries in all walks of life – to the just-announced decision to ban vehicles from parking along 262 streets in nine inner-city districts. While streets in the city look more spacious now following the ban effective on Thursday, many people find their work-a-day activities being turned upside down. The reason is apparent: the solution is half-done.
As widely covered on local media in the past few days, Hanoi City’s Department of Transport has revoked licenses of all parking service enterprises along the 262 streets, and applied harsh penalties against those service providers violating the ban. Most vehicle parking business enterprises have adhered to the rule, and the majority of people in Hanoi welcomed the measure as necessary to fight the worsening traffic congestion.
But protests are also widespread, not because of the ban itself, but rather the numerous inconveniences caused to the people who cannot find venues to park their vehicles, according to Tuoi Tre. In a full-length report titled “Easy for the city but difficult for the people,” the newspaper says that Hanoi City authorities simply issued the ban while failing to find new parking places in replacement for the people. A resident named Hoang Manh Ha is quoted as protesting in the paper that “thousands of people come to the Central Eye Hospital for examination and treatment each day, and given the ban, they do not know where to have their vehicles kept.”
A business woman, meanwhile, lamented that areas around State agencies like the taxation department and the auditing department are not now available for parking, and “enterprises will find it extremely difficult when going there for business.”
In fact, State agencies in Hanoi in a meeting in December submitted to the municipal government a list of parking venues to be banned as well as another list of 224 other streets where parking should be allowed. However, city authorities while approving the ban on February 6 have not endorsed the list of new parking areas as proposed, Nguyen Quoc Hung, director of Hanoi’s Transport Department, said on Tuoi Tre.
The Transport Department has been unable to answer the people’s question as where to park their vehicles, and only says that there will be 230 new parking venues for the people, says Vietnamnet.
Nguyen Thi Thanh Lam, deputy director of a parking business enterprise in Hanoi, said the city government should have prepared a plan to set up new parking venues before issuing the ban to make life easier for both the people and business. A resident says on the news website that “we support the policy to fight traffic congestions, but if this place is banned while other places are not allowed, the people as well as enterprises will know nowhere to park their vehicles.”
Dan Tri quotes a forum participant to demand Hanoi City to look for better solutions to fight traffic congestion rather than merely issuing one ban after another. “Please find more suitable and radical solutions to improve the traffic situation. The bans cause more difficulties for the people on one hand and show the lack of responsibility as well as competence on the part of authorities,” according to the paper.
Apart from the failure to pinpoint new parking venues for the people, Hanoi City also lacks supportive measures to facilitate traffic circulation in the city, such as installing traffic signals along the streets that are now closed to parking.
Vietnam Television in a short newsreel on Thursday showed how a man reacted angrily to traffic police for fining him by parking on a street included in the list. The man argued that no traffic sign was installed along the street banning vehicle parking, so under the traffic law he was not violating the rule. Despite his argument that is apparently reasonable, the police officer still slapped a fine.
In a news briefing in Hanoi on Wednesday, or one day ahead of the ban, Nguyen Quoc Hung, director of Hanoi City’s Department of Transport, said the parking ban was just one of many prescriptions to fight traffic congestion in the city. “Launching the staggering study and working hours, and banning vehicles parking on the streets are just two out of several solutions the city is taking to address traffic woes,” says Nguoi Lao Dong.
“This (the ban) is also a measure to restrict private transport means. Without parking venues, the people will have to use other transport means,” says Thanh Nien, quoting Nguyen Quoc Hung. He, however, stopped short of referring to “other transport means, because, in reality, there are many streets in the list without commuter bus services.” The ban, while deemed necessary to make positive changes to the city’s traffic situation, is therefore still a half-done solution.
The Saigon Times Daily