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Rampaging trucks a shocking problem for urban commuters in Vietnam

Saturday, January 05, 2019, 08:00 GMT+7
Rampaging trucks a shocking problem for urban commuters in Vietnam
A concrete mixer enters a restricted street in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

A fatal accident in which a tractor trailer ploughed into nearly two dozen motorbikes stopped at a traffic light, killing four, in the Mekong Delta province of Long An on Wednesday has sparked a nationwide call for action to be taken against the blatant traffic violations perpetrated by truck drivers throughout the country.

Though the accident occurred on a highway, people who depend on smaller roads to commute live in constant fear of being mauled by trucks illegally traveling through restricted residential areas.

Bans ignored

Most urban streets in Vietnam ban heavy vehicles during day time hours, meaning large vehicles are essentially restricted to belt roads surrounding municipalities when motorists are likely to be on inner city roads. 

Unfortunately, these restrictions do little to stop truck drivers from cutting through heavily populated urban areas.

The problem is particularly visible in Ho Chi Minh City. 

Many of the city’s main arteries, such as Cach Mang Thang Tam, Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, and Hai Ba Trung, are relentlessly burdened by cargo trucks nearly twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, despite the vehicles being banned from using these roads from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.

A truck is seen illegally traveling on an inner road in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: Tuoi Tre

On December 21, Tuoi Tre (Youth) reporters noticed a ten-ton truck making its way down Nguyen Thi Minh Khai Street at 9:50 pm, ten minutes before it was legally allowed to use the road.

The situation is no different on Hai Ba Trung Street, which connects two inner districts of the southern metropolis.  Between 8:00 am and 10:00 am that morning reporters observed nearly 30 trucks barrelling down the street.

In just 20 minutes, dozens of oversize trucks had been spotted running up and down the road.

As most of these streets are small and constantly congested, this phenomenon creates considerable safety concerns from commuters who depend on these roads.

Traffic police ‘unable to resolve’

In an interview with Tuoi Tre, Pham Le Lam, an official from the inspectorate of the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Transport, admitted that traffic inspectors are spread too thin to put an end to the blatant disregard for traffic regulations.

Still, he affirmed that inner city routes are mostly free from cargo trucks weighing more than five metric tons from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm.

According to Lam, only 202 trucks have approval from the transport department to enter the downtown area for public, construction, and infrastructure services.

“In order to put a stop to the issue, the city’s transport department must be more rigid in its law enforcement,” Lam said.

He suggested that drivers caught violating the law have their licenses confiscated and tigheter restrictsions be placed on trucks seeking permission to enter restrictred routes.

In outer districts, authorities have proposed several solutions to mitigate the issue in outer districts, where drivers are in a constant race to get to shipping ports on time, but little headway has been made.

After school unrest

Large trucks traveling past schools at the beginning and end of the day is commonplace in Ho Chi Minh City.

At 4:15 pm on December 18, just as students were released from class, three trucks sped past the gate of Nguyen Hien Elementary School in District 2, shocking dozens of the young students.

According to the parents, the situation first began last year when several construction projects broke ground near the school.

Though trucks are prohibited from using the street between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm, authorities have yet to step in to enforce the ban.

Trucks are seen in front of Nguyen Hien Elementary School. Photo: Tuoi Tre

2018 has been a year chock full of fatal traffic accidents across the country.

At the end of October a drunk driver crashed her BMW into a crowd at a busy intersection in Ho Chi Minh City, killing one.

Less than a month later, two were killed when their car plunged off a bridge in Hanoi.

Also in November, a large petrol truck overturned and sparked a blaze that burned 19 houses and claimed six lives in the southern province of Binh Phuoc.

Just one day into 2019, an alleged drunk driver overturned her taxi, killing three out of the five passengers she was carrying in the Central Highlands of Lam Dong.

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Duy Khoi / Tuoi Tre News Contributor

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