Traffic cops collect unofficial fines from commuters near Ho Chi Minh City airport

Several traffic cops asked offenders to pay an unofficial ‘fine’ in order to keep violations off their records

A traffic cop collects ‘fine’ from an offender near Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

Local citizens are reporting that traffic police officers near a major airport in Ho Chi Minh City have forced motorists and motorcyclists to pay unofficial fines for various traffic violations.

Several groups of traffic police set up shop on roads where traffic violations are often unintentionally committed, hoping to take advantage of violators’ willingness to pay on-the-spot fines.

Though these fines go against protocol, traffic offenders would rather pay them than undergo the standard procedure of having their driver’s licenses or vehicles temporarily taken away after being pulled over and notified of their offenses.

To retrieve vehicles or paperwork under these standard procedures, motorists and motorcyclists must appear at a specific police station on an arranged date with an accompanying written decision on their penalty, pay a fine at the city’s state treasury, and return to the station for retrieval.

While many officers strictly follow such protocol, some go against it; They would pull over vehicles and ask drivers to pay a fine, without making records of such traffic violations..

The situation was quite evident recently near Tan Son Nhat International Airport, where multiple law enforcers pocketed a large amount of money from traffic violators in just a short period of time.

A traffic cop collects ‘fine’ from an offender near Tan Son Nhat Airport.
A traffic cop collects a ‘fine’ from an offender near Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

According to the observation of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters at the intersection of Hoang Minh Giam with Hong Ha Streets in mid-June, a passenger bus was stopped by a traffic cop and his apprentice after accidentally merging onto the wrong section of the road.

After presenting his license and relevant documents, the bus driver handed some cash to the officer before his paperwork was returned and he was able to drive away.

Two other automobiles were fined under similar procedures within the hour.

At around 3:00 am on June 14, a group of traffic cops began continuously pulling over motorbikes and cars.

Over and over again, commuters would hand over their documents, pay a ‘fine,’ take back their documents, and drive away.

Some travelers were not even aware that they had committed traffic violations, but still eventually agreed to pay the charges after talking with officers.

For more serious vehicle violations, additional steps were taken.

At around 5:00 am on the same day, a cabbie was pulled over during a rainstorm.

Multiple vehicles pulled over under the flyover leading to Tan Son Nhat Airport.
Multiple vehicles are pulled over under the flyover leading to Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

After checking the driver’s wallet, the officer shook his head, indicating that the amount the driver was willing to pay was not sufficient.

Following a discussion, the cab’s passenger offered VND700,000 (US$30.8) to help the driver.

Returning to the officer, the cabbie pulled out banknotes three separate times.

The traffic cop had a final look at the cabbie’s wallet and pulled out some extra cash before letting him go.

Such ‘fine collection’ is done both out in the open and discretely. 

When traffic officers do not wish to be seen, they take violators to fences belonging to nearby construction sites to make payments and claim documents.

Some officers also turn their nametag backward and hide money carefully in folders.

The team of officers finished their ‘mission’ at around 5:22 am after ‘fining’ dozens of vehicles, among which only a seven-seater car was penalized in accordance with the law.

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