Make motorbike emission inspections mandatory: Transport Ministry

By Doan Loan   May 26, 2020 | 05:33 am PT
Make motorbike emission inspections mandatory: Transport Ministry
Vehicles are stuck on Nguyen Trai Street, Hanoi, at 9 a.m. on May 11, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Ngoc Thanh.
Motorbikes must have their emissions checked periodically as a move to protect the environment, according to a traffic law amendment proposal.

Proposed by the Transport Ministry, the draft amendment says registries will be responsible for carrying out the emission inspections under a schedule set by the government.

Nguyen Van Thach, head of the ministry’s Road Safety Department, said the number of motorbikes on the road has kept rising, resulting in a large amount of harmful emissions, especially in urban areas.

"Writing this gas emission control into law is necessary because it will not only help control the air quality but also the quality of the vehicle itself," he said.

Data from the Vietnam Register says more than 50 million motorbikes are in use in Vietnam, including 5.7 million in Hanoi and 8.1 million in HCMC, making up 95 percent of motor vehicles in the country.

Motorbikes also account for 80-90 percent of the total carbon monoxide and high hydrocarbon and 50 percent of the total nitrogen oxide emitted from all road motor vehicles, it adds.

Dang Tran Khanh, deputy head of the vehicle inspection department under the Vietnam Register, said emission control is currently applied only for new vehicles, either assembled in Vietnam or imported.

As many people do not pay attention to maintaining their vehicles, their emissions worsen quickly, affecting the air quality.

Aside from the registries, vehicle maintenance and repair facilities run by private firms can participate in the inspection of motorbike emissions, and the state agencies will monitor the operation of such facilities to verify and issue emission certificates later, he suggested.

"It takes just two-three minutes to check the gas emissions of one motorbike and in case the vehicle does not meet the standard, the owner will have to deal with the problem before having the vehicle checked again later to get the certificate," Khanh said, adding that several countries in the world require such inspections every year. Vietnam could learn from such countries, he added.

Japan and South Korea require vehicle owners to cover the cost of emissions inspection. In Taiwan, this is covered by paying an extra fee on environment protection while purchasing fuel.

Khanh said that if the law takes effect, not all motorbikes have to be inspected at the same time, because the authorities will focus on those that have been in use for more than 10 years first.

Not easy to enforce

Phan Le Binh, an expert with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and lecturer at the Vietnam Japan University, said it was not a simple task to inspect gas emissions of tens of millions of motorbikes. The task could overwhelm the concerned agency, he said.

"In the beginning, authorities can start with motorbikes 15-20 years old in big cities to help people get used to the process," he said.

He also suggested putting stamps on those bikes that have been checked so that traffic police are saved the trouble of pulling a vehicle over for checking.

The amended draft Law on Road Traffic will be submitted to the legislative National Assembly for discussion this year. If most legislators vote in favor, it will become law.

The Pollution and Health Metrics report by the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution last December ranked Vietnam 4th in the number of pollution-linked deaths in the Western Pacific region.

An estimated 71,365 Vietnamese people lost their lives to pollution in 2017, the latest year for which data was available, according to the report. The number includes 50,232 killed by air pollution.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said in 2018 that more than 60,000 deaths from heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia in Vietnam in 2016 were linked to air pollution.

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