Despite Project 6650, Traffic Accidents Continue to Rise

In early November, the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City approved Project 6650 to ease the problems of traffic congestion and accidents by the end of the first quarter of 2008. Although the project’s deadline has nearly arrived, most of its components could not be carried out and the city’s traffic accident rate has continued to rise.

The project consists of eight solutions. One of them is to let the children studying at different grades in the same school start their class hours at a different times. Schools were required to set class hours that differed from office working hours so that workers did not commute at the same time as students.

Two months after the project was approved, this idea was found to be ineffective. Many schools were already beginning class an hour and half earlier or later than office hours even before the effective date of the project to help their children come to class on time.

Other solutions, including clearing shops and vendors that had taken over pavements, reorganizing the operation of buses, establishing a steering committee responsible for proposing measures to ease traffic congestion and accidents, and distributing traffic directions, were halted as they did not produce the desired effect.

A frustrating traffic jam takes place on Ha Noi Highway

The traffic congestion and accidents have actually increased. In the last three months of 2007, there were 336 traffic accidents, including 251 fatalities, according the city’s Traffic Safety Board. The rate of severe traffic congestion in the same period was as high as for the whole year.

In the first 16 days of March 2008, 51 traffic accidents claimed a total of 50 lives and injured 17. There were 6 percent more traffic accidents and the death rate 47 percent higher compared with the same period in 2007.

An expert with the Traffic Safety Board concluded that Project 6650 has failed completely.

The failure of the Project 6650 does not surprise many people as they had foreseen its weak points from the outset. In fact, the People’s Committee did not hold a seminar to ask relevant authorities and scientists about the feasibility of its ideas until two weeks after the project was approved.

At the seminar, Dr. Pham Xuan Mai of the Ho Chi Minh University of Technology emphasized that none of the project’s solutions could provide a breakthrough. He stressed that the distribution of traffic directions would not work unless the city had conducted a survey of real-life traffic flows and set up parking lots for motorcycle drivers in streets where motorcycles are forbidden.

A delegate from the Department of Justice said to was unreasonable to order the Department of Planning and Investment and local people’s committees not to issue a business license to any enterprise that did not build parking lots for customers.

Based on this regulation, many districts stopped issuing business licenses to applicants that did not meet this requirement. The delegate pointed out that this regulation was contrary to the Law of Businesses.

He added that the city’s people’s committee issued an amendment to the regulation to correct the mistake. It allowed the Department of Planning and Investment and the district and ward People’s Committees to grant business licenses to applicants as requested on condition that they had to commit in writing that their business activities would not violate the Traffic Law, specifically, not that they would not allow customers to park their motorcycles on the pavement in front of their facilities.

The delegation commented that the amendment does not correspond with current legal regulations as it forces applicants to comply with additional formalities that are not required by law.

Commenting on the failure of the project, a high-ranking official of city asked how a project directly affecting residents’ daily lives could work if it did not follow basic principles in terms of preparation, for example, by conducting necessary surveys, collecting suggestions and advice from scientists and experts, and taking into account views expressed by members of the public.

The project was not only a waste, but also caused inconvenience to the city’s residents. 

By Hai Bang – Translated by Phuong Lan

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