Can traffic signs, tech and a fresh take on corruption solve Saigon's gridlock?

By Stephen Guess   August 24, 2017 | 03:09 am PT
Can traffic signs, tech and a fresh take on corruption solve Saigon's gridlock?
Construction of new roads is underway on Thu Thiem Peninsula in Ho Chi Minh City. It promises to become the city's new business suburb. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
'Maybe increasing the [traffic] fines and giving a percentage to the police' would deter corruption.

VnExpress International introduces to you the next think-piece by our reader on solving Vietnam's traffic nightmare. We've had a long-term solution and short-term advice on surviving the traffic. For a medium-term solution, our reader Stephen Guess has a couple of ideas to share. 


It is a number of problems and here I am really talking about Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC).

The traffic rules need to be totally overhauled. Stop and give way signs should be introduced so there are no arguments over right of way at junctions, red lights need to be policed and traffic cameras should be installed. I understand that there is a computer program for traffic lights to improve traffic flow in cities, and this should be introduced in both HCMC and Hanoi.

All this starts with education, both at school and through advertising with compulsory infomercials on all Vietnamese channels. Then we have the issue of corrupt police. Drivers know they can just pay “coffee money” and the problem disappears. Maybe increasing the fines and giving a percentage to the police while increasing penalties for those caught accepting bribes would deter corruption. Patience is also required along with common sense, both sadly lacking.

In HCMC all cars should be banned between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday to Friday in at least District 1. As mentioned in your article, the streets were designed more with motorbikes in mind. They can move a lot of people a lot faster than cars, and you don’t often see gridlock caused by motorbikes alone.

No more high rises, whether offices or apartment blocks, should be built in city centers until traffic infrastructure can cope with them. HCMC has a great opportunity with the new Thu Thiem area to build all the offices and apartments it needs for years to come and include the necessary infrastructure if they are stricter with their building designs and take an overall view of what they allow to be built.

It is obvious the government doesn’t want to ban cars as they all drive them and so do their friends, but it is costing the country billions and so eventually their pockets as well.


 Do you agree with the above solutions? What else could be done in the medium-term?


*Editor's note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author.

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