Drastic measures in Vietnam for dire traffic problems

By Chi Liquicia

Jammed in Hanoi. (Reuters)

Hanoi traffic might not be in the same league as Beijing, Moscow or Mexico City, but it’s notorious in its own way. Drivers don’t seem to follow any conventional traffic rules, relying instead on knowing the unwritten rules by heart.

In Hanoi, every day sees nearly four million motorbikes, one million bicycles and more than 500,000 automobiles enter the city’s streets. Traffic infrastructure makes up less than 10 percent of Hanoi’s land, and city officials estimated that about 25 percent would be needed to handle the amount of traffic. There is public transport, but those meet only nine per cent of residents’ needs.

Local officials have come up with a plan to ease the mayhem in the streets during peak hours. On Wednesday the city began staggering the start times for work and schools.

The plan means more hours spent at work, and at school. School officials need to figure out how to pay teachers for working another two hours each day. Parents are struggling to handle their new schedules. Nguyen Thi Mai told the Vietnam News that her new work hours mean she’s had to hire a motorbike driver to pick up and feed her five-year-old, because her new work hours mean she can’t do it. “This is my only solution and I am really worried about my son’s safety,” she told the paper.

Hanoi may have traded one headache for another.

Straight to the Source

  • Anonymous

    my friend Matt just graduated college in America and is now working at an architecture firm in Ho Chi Minh City. I asked him if owning a scooter made a difference in escaping Vietnam’s terrible traffic. he replied: “no it’s bad for motorbike drivers too (~80% of drivers) but with cars its nearly impossible. when I get home from work I feel lightheaded from sitting in traffic breathing exhaust.”

    not a fun commute!