Interprovincial transport remains stalled amid eased lockdowns

By Duc Hung, Nguyen Hai, Minh Cuong, Doan Loan   October 10, 2021 | 06:22 pm GMT+7
Many localities have not allowed interprovincial transportation to resume even after relaxed lockdowns over worries of spreading Covid-19 infections.

"The Hanoi People's Committee does not have a plan to resume any interprovincial transport routes," said a representative of the municipal transportation department.

The department said that the city’s leaders were being cautious about allowing transportation to resume because their priority was pandemic prevention and containment.

Since its lockdown was relaxed Sept. 21, Hanoi has only allowed motorbike taxi drivers to deliver goods. Buses, taxis, tourist and contracted passenger cars as well as vehicles used for inter-provincial transport are still on hold.

Passenger busses in Hanoi have stopped since the city enter a lockdown under Directive 16. Photo by VnExprress/Anh Duy

Passenger bus service in Hanoi has stopped since the city imposed strict social distancing measures in late July, 2021. Photo by VnExprress/Anh Duy

Other provinces like Quang Ninh and Lang Son in the north, and Nghe An and Ha Tinh in the central region have also not resumed interprovincial transportation.

Nghe An’s transportation department has sent letters to peers in other northern provinces, but the latter have not agreed to resume interprovincial transportation, citing pandemic prevention rules, said department director Hoang Phu Hien.

Nguyen Quang Son, head of the department of Vehicle Management and Driver under Ha Tinh's transportation department, said the province was still recording Covid-19 infections, so other localities may reject plans to resume interprovincial transportation.

Moreover, buses to pandemic-hit areas may not have customers, so transportation firms may not resume operations, he added.

Bui Danh Lien, vice chairman of the Hanoi Automobile Transport Association, said if provinces are too cautious and do not resume passenger transportation, they cannot live with the pandemic as directed by the central government.

The pandemic situation in Hanoi has been basically controlled, with rate of people over 18 years old getting first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine crossing 90 percent, so the city should allow inner-city buses and interprovincial coaches to resume operations with Covid prevention measures, Lien said, adding interprovincial buses need not be allowed to stop on the road in between two destinations.

Nguyen Van Quyen, Chairman of the Vietnam Automobile Transport Association, also said that provinces should reopen passenger bus routes when lockdowns are eased, because people will need to travel when production and business resume.

"Localities are responsible for pandemic prevention, so they often set their own requirements, but in terms of traffic, they need to follow the instructions of the transportation ministry," said Quyen.

Nguyen Cong Hung, chairman of the Hanoi Taxi Association, said the pandemic was under control as almost all adults have been vaccinated, so it was necessary to allow taxis to resume operations.

"Companies are ready to operate awaiting (authorities’) approval. The city should not look for absolute perfection in pandemic prevention."

Phan Thi Thu Hien, Deputy Director of the Directorate for Roads of Vietnam, said: "Many provinces and cities are afraid that resuming transportation will pose infection risks. Therefore, when reopening, it is necessary to be cautious and pilot each route at low frequency with limited number of passengers and social distancing rules."

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