HCMC expects to pocket $1.3 million per month from hiking roadside car parking fees

By Trung Son, Tuyet Nguyen   March 16, 2018 | 02:13 am PT
HCMC expects to pocket $1.3 million per month from hiking roadside car parking fees
A man walks between parked cars on a busy street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
Officials are hoping the higher fees will deter drivers from parking in the city center.

Ho Chi Minh City has announced that it will be raising roadside car parking fees by five times from June, making it more expensive to park by the road than it is to use office lots and shopping malls.

The new fees for cars will range from between VND25,000-40,000 ($1-1.75) for the first hour, and more thereafter, officials said at a meeting on Friday.

HCMC currently allows cars to park on 35 roads and charges fees from 6 a.m. to midnight, and the new rates are expected to bring in an extra VND30 billion ($1.3 million) a month, they said.

The fees will be 20-25 percent higher than office buildings and shopping malls.

Transport officials have expressed hope that the high fees will keep cars away.

Vice chairman Tran Vinh Tuyen said the city does not encourage parking by the road and wants to keep the space clear. “But people have a demand,” he said.

Parking space in HCMC's downtown now only meets around 7 percent of total demand, according to sources familiar with the matter. As a result, the city has turned parts of its many roads and sidewalks into legal parking spaces, but this has added to congestion woes.

Plans for four underground parking lots have remained largely on paper for years. Construction of one of them did start in Le Van Tam Park in 2010 at an estimated cost of $110 million, but no completion date has been set.

At a meeting in January, Tuyen also said that the city should adopt “practical” measures to manage its road space.

He said at the time that the city would temporarily allow people to use sidewalks for purposes such as parking lots or shops, but they would have to maintain traffic safety in their areas in return.

“Sidewalks are like golden land,” he said. “They will be snapped up by one person or another.”

The statement came soon after Doan Ngoc Hai, the de facto frontman of the city’s sidewalk cleanup campaign, submitted his resignation.

Hai started the sidewalk campaign in early 2017 with a pledge to turn the central District 1 into a “Little Singapore”. His team put up barriers and deployed police officers to stop motorbikes from driving on the sidewalks. During the crackdown, vehicles, including government and foreign diplomatic cars, were towed, and invasive constructions that spilled out onto the street, some of which belonged to five-star hotels, were dismantled.

He gained widespread public support, although the campaign was dismissed as too radical by some people.

Hai said that his campaign had collided with businesses that had million-dollar interests on the sidewalks, and a large number of officials backing them.

The mission did not receive the support it needed from the entire political system, he explained.

Sidewalk invasions are one of the factors hindering traffic in HCMC, which has 30,000 new vehicles, including 4,500 cars, hitting its streets every month, officials said at the Wednesday meeting.

The 13-million strong city opened new overpasses and expanded roads to ease the problem last year, and has plans to continue its efforts this year.

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