Hanoi to ban mo­tor­bikes by 2030

Crit­ics blame mo­tor­bikes for air pol­lu­tion

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Of­fi­cials in Viet­nam’s traf­fic-choked cap­i­tal Hanoi vowed yes­ter­day to ban­ish mo­tor­bikes by 2030 to ease en­vi­ron­ment and con­ges­tion woes, a de­ci­sion that swiftly di­vided a city where two-wheel­ers are the main means of trans­porta­tion. Hanoi is famed for le­gions of mo­tor­bikessome­times stacked with en­tire fam­i­lies or over­loaded with de­liv­er­ies-that clog roads in a fast-grow­ing city with lim­ited pub­lic trans­porta­tion.

There are five mil­lion mo­tor­bikes among a pop­u­la­tion of about seven mil­lion, com­pared to half a mil­lion cars on the road. In a coun­try where the av­er­age an­nual wage is still around $2,200, the af­ford­abil­ity of mo­tor­bikes makes them ubiq­ui­tous. Yet crit­ics have blamed the emis­sion­sheavy mo­tor­bikes for Hanoi’s de­te­ri­o­rat­ing air qual­ity and wors­en­ing traf­fic con­ges­tion. The de­ci­sion to ban mo­tor­bikes by 2030 was ap­proved by 95 out of 96 city coun­cilors at a meet­ing yes­ter­day.

Of­fi­cials said the num­ber of ve­hi­cles was grow­ing at an “alarm­ing” rate, ac­cord­ing to a re­port on the city gov­ern­ment’s web­site. “Traf­fic jams and air pol­lu­tion will be­come se­ri­ous in the fu­ture if no im­me­di­ate man­age­ment mea­sures are in place,” the re­port said. The ban will be im­ple­mented in metropoli­tan dis­tricts and pub­lic trans­port op­tions would be in­creased to wean peo­ple off their scoot­ers, the re­port added.

The num­ber of reg­is­tered mo­tor­bikes in Viet­nam is among the high­est in South­east Asia, and of­fi­cials in Hanoi have long-mulled ban­ning the bikes in an ef­fort to mod­ern­ize the city along the lines of Seoul or Tokyo. Some wel­comed the move, say­ing the ban is cru­cial to clean­ing up Hanoi’s air, which is no­to­ri­ously smoggy in the win­ter months. “Too many pri­vate cars, too many mo­tor­bikes... the qual­ity of air is re­ally bad and the de­ci­sion made to­day will im­prove that,” economist and trans­port ex­pert Luong Hoai Nam said.

To­tally in­sane

The city clocked 282 days of “ex­ces­sive” lev­els of PM2.5 — fine par­tic­u­late mat­ter harm­ful to hu­man health-last year, ac­cord­ing to non-gov­ern­men­tal group GreenID, cit­ing World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion guide­lines. The Hanoi gov­ern­ment is rolling out an air mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem in an ef­fort to make Hanoi “green and clean and civilised so that peo­ple liv­ing and work­ing here have a high qual­ity of life”, Nguyen Trong Dong, the head of the city’s en­vi­ron­ment depart­ment said last month.

On so­cial me­dia, some peo­ple de­cried the mo­tor­bike ban an­nounce­ment-ques­tion­ing whether the gov­ern­ment will re­ally of­fer vi­able pub­lic trans­port al­ter­na­tives as promised. “This idea is to­tally in­sane,” said of­fice worker Hoang Thuy Duong, who rides a mo­tor­bike to work daily. “Mo­tor­bikes are the best means of trans­porta­tion in Hanoi. I doubt au­thor­i­ties can re­place them with pub­lic ve­hi­cles,” she said.

Hanoi does not have a metro sys­tem, only pub­lic buses which ac­count for 12 per­cent of travel de­mand in the city. Of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day they plan to boost that share to around 50 per­cent by 2030. Con­struc­tion of a sky train in the city has been re­peat­edly de­layed but is slated to open next year. Some said lim­it­ing in­di­vid­ual ve­hi­cle use is not ef­fec­tive with­out ef­fi­cient pub­lic trans­port in place. “When you just em­ploy ban­ning as one mea­sure they never suc­ceed,” said Jung Eun Oh, se­nior trans­port spe­cial­ist at the World Bank in Viet­nam.—AFP

HANOI: Mo­tor­cy­clists ride along­side cars and buses at rush hour on a street in down­town Hanoi yes­ter­day.—AFP

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