A lack of proper parking lots in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City has resulted in cars being parked on local sidewalks and roadways, compromising traffic safety.
While parking garages in downtown areas are always packed with vehicles, others built in less prominent neighborhoods are often left empty due to the lack of demand.
In central districts 1 and 3 in Ho Chi Minh City, cars are often parked along major streets despite the presence of prohibition signs.
Only one multi-story car park, which was built by the Saigon Transportation Mechanical Corporation (SAMCO), is reserved for car parking in the downtown area, with a capacity of 500 automobiles and 3,900 motorcycles.
According to Tang Thi Thu Ly, deputy general director of SAMCO, parking spaces for automobiles are always in high demand, at a cost of VND2 million (US$87.8) per car per month.
Given the limited space, local authorities have allowed four-wheeled vehicles to be parked along sections of streets like Bui Thi Xuan, Suong Nguyet Anh, Ly Tu Trong, and Truong Dinh, for a small fee.
This has meant that vehicles travelling along these streets are left with only a narrow space to drive on.
Several malls and office buildings in the surrounding neighborhood have also provided parking spaces for automobiles at higher rates.
At the Kumho Asiana Plaza on Le Duan Street, the cost of a car park for the first three hours is VND10,000 ($0.44) per vehicle. This fee rises to VND100,000 ($4.4) after this period, while the nighttime parking rate is VND200,000 (8.8) per car.
Cars are parked along 23/9 Park in District 1 for a fee. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The Saigon Center on Le Loi Street also offers parking for VND20,000 ($0.88) per car for the first three hours. This amount increases by VND20,000 for every additional hour.
According to taxi driver Nguyen Thanh Vinh, he often parks his cab on the street, as it is inconvenient and time consuming to park them at nearby buildings.
Nguyen Quang Minh, driver of a seven-seated tourist car, said that he preferred parking on the road as the fee is only VND5,000 ($0.22) for an entire day.
Despite this, parking spaces at local malls and buildings in the city are always full to capacity, which is in contrast to the situation in outlying districts, despite their lower cost.
For example, the five-story parking lot in Tan Phu District, with a fee of around VND1.3 million ($57) per car per month, has only ever been used to 40 percent of its capacity of 1,500 cars.
The situation in Ho Chi Minh City is exacerbated by the sluggish execution of several parking lot projects in downtown districts.
A proposal to construct an underground parking lot at Le Van Tam Park in District 1 was approved by the prime minister in 2005 but is still yet to be completed.
According to the projects developers, they encountered several problems in calculating the efficiency of their investment as the cost of such a parking lot is very high.
Another plan for a basement parking lot under Lam Son Square has also been delayed for 12 years due to problematic procedures regarding its permit and land clearance, among others.
Automobiles are parked on the sidewalk and streets in Hanoi. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Hanoi desperate for parking lots
According to urban traffic experts, Hanoi is in desperate need of parking spaces due to rapid increase of personal vehicles.
Aside from parking lots in local basements, the Vietnamese capital doesn’t have any established design for additional parking space.
Colonel Nguyen Xuan Dinh, an official from the municipal Department of Police, said that about 939 parking lots are being operated across the city, of which 687 are on sidewalks and 245 are along local streets.
Among that total figure, 244 are run without license, Col. Dinh revealed.
According to the observation of Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters, several major city streets populated by businesses, office buildings, hospitals, and administrative offices, do not have any authorized parking lots.
“I work at a bank on Ba Trieu Street, around which there is no parking space for my car. I have to park it about 1.5 kilometres away and catch a cab to my office," one local resident complained.
Due to the high demand, unlicensed parking spaces have mushroomed in the area, offering parking spaces at exorbitant rates.
One parking lot near Hoan Kiem Lake provides car parking for VND50,000 ($2.2) per car, with that fee rising to VND100,000 ($4.3) on the weekends.