Hanoi to silence wartime loudspeakers in downtown districts

By Vo Hai   August 2, 2017 | 07:38 pm PT
Hanoi to silence wartime loudspeakers in downtown districts
Loudspeakers used for air raid warnings during the Vietnam War are still blaring on many streets in Hanoi. Photo by Giang Huy
The volume is also going to be muted near diplomatic agencies and foreign neighborhoods.

Hanoi has decided to reduce the number of wartime loudspeakers that blast out over the city's streets every morning and afternoon to convey public information messages.

Mayor Nguyen Duc Chung has approved the plan to restructure the broadcasting system, which dates back to the 1960s and 1970s when it delivered air raid warnings during the Vietnam War.

Under the plan, loudspeakers in the downtown districts of Ba Dinh, Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung and Hoan Kiem will only be used in times of emergency, such as dealing with natural disasters or outbreaks of disease.

Speakers in the rest of the capital will broadcast extra information about military enrollment, vaccinations and pension payments, but the city will cut off any situated near schools, hospitals, diplomatic agencies and neighborhoods inhabited by old people or foreigners.

The broadcasts will only take place on weekdays, and will last for 30-90 minutes per day.

The project will be completed some time next year, and will also include the introduction of modern communications measures such as digital billboards on the streets and an information text messaging service for each family.

Hanoi has expressed its intentions to completely phase out its loudspeakers, but a specific timeframe has not been set.

Chung said at a conference in January that the city’s loudspeakers had “completed their mission”, suggesting that they could be scrapped if they were no longer of use.

A referendum in January showed that 90 percent of people in Hanoi were ready to say goodbye to the system. Many said that the speakers were redundant in the digital age, and they were too noisy.

Others suggested that the speakers belong in a museum now.

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