Traffic congestion in Ha Noi has long been a problem, and urban planners are struggling to find immediate strategies or a long-term solution to address the issue.
Experts at a workshop yesterday, March 15, in Ha Noi jointly held by the ministries of Construction and Transport and Health Bridge Canada said they did not expect an improvement in the next five or 10 years if traffic infrastructure did not change.
The congestion could be attributed to a variety of causes, the biggest of which being that transportation development had failed to keep pace with the city's rapid urbanisation, Deputy Minister of Transport Truong Tan Vien said.
The lack of vision in urban planning and weaknesses in city management had also made the situation worse, he added.
Vien pointed out there was a limited amount of land designated for traffic infrastructure in the city, only about 13 per cent compared to the standard 20-25 per cent.
According to general director of Transport Engineering Design Inc Pham Huu Son, Ha Noi is faced with a seriously under-developed "static traffic system" including parking spaces and pavement, especially poor in the inner city.
The parking space currently available meets only 30 per cent of the demand. Meanwhile, private vehicles have kept increasing by 12-13 per cent per year, putting huge pressure on the traffic system.
In addition, although public transport is currently running at full capacity, the system can meet only 15 per cent of the travel needs of city residents.
"The city seems to count on public transport to help improve traffic," said Khuat Viet Hung from the Ha Noi University of Transport, but "it has spent little money on developing the system."
The fact remains that Ha Noi does not have any kind of rapid mass transit, light rail transit or rapid bus transit to date, according to Son.
Son also stressed the importance of developing a network of rapid public transport in the future, saying it would be a decisive factor in the success of the city's plan to publicly accommodate 50 per cent of travel demand by 2030.
According to Nguyen Ngoc Quang from Holland Twente University, Hanoians prefer private motorbikes and cars because public means of transport do not deliver them close enough to their desired destinations.
"It often takes people longer to travel by bus to their offices every day than by private vehicle," he said.
In order to encourage people to use public transport, urban planners must focus on improving accessibility and extending routes to different destinations including schools, hospitals, parks and offices.
Kristie Deaniel from HealthBridge Canada also recommended that the city study plans of developed cities in the world, such as Amsterdam, to encourage people to travel on foot and by bicycles.
According to deputy director of the Ha Noi Construction Planning Institute Le Vinh, in the next five years the city should focus on completing construction of ring roads and major avenues such as Lang-Hoa Lac, Ngo Gia Tu, Le Van Luong and Le Trong Tan streets.
The national railway, which divided the city into two parts, also hindered movement through the urban centre and measures should be taken to solve the problem, said Vinh.
"A single solution could never work, but a combination of long-term and immediate solutions could help," said vice president of the Viet Nam Federation of Civil Engineering Associations Pham Sy Liem.
Liem also stressed that the planning of satellite cities required careful consideration in order to maintain their populations and prevent residents from flocking to the inner city.
Under the master plan of Ha Noi to 2030 with a vision to 2050, the capital would be expanded to cover an area of more than 3,340sq.km with a population of 9.2 million by 2030. More than 6 million people would live in the urban area.
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