5 Jul 2017

Hanoi aims to curb pollution with motorbike ban

12:13 pm on 5 July 2017

Hanoi is planning on banning motorbikes and scooters, of which there are five million in the Vietnamese city, by 2030.

Busy traffic in the old quarter, Hanoi.

Busy traffic in the old quarter, Hanoi. Photo: AFP

The city council voted for the ban almost unanimously, hoping to unclog roads and reduce soaring levels of pollution.

Council officials decided to put "immediate management measures" in place after a report found the number of motorbikes and scooters in Hanoi was set to grow at an "alarming" rate.

According to the non-governmental group GreenID, the city recorded 282 days of "excessive" levels of PM2.5, which is harmful to human health, last year.

Some studies suggest there are already 2500 motorbikes per kilometre.

The council has also promised to increase public transport so that by 2013 half the population use it, instead of the current 12 percent.

Some residents think it very unlikely the bikes will go for good, however.

Ngo Ngoc Trai said the city was too crowded, while public transport "hardly exists".

"For example, there is no underground system in Vietnam. Only in June did Hanoi pilot the first two-storey bus in some routes.

"Looking back at the history, I don't trust any long-term plan here. The government used to say Vietnam would become an industrialised country by 2020. Now everyone realises this plan has failed."

The ban does not include cars, which, as wages rise, are an increasingly popular choice in Vietnam.

But they still lag behind their two-wheeled rivals. A report in Thanh Nien News found there were 750 new cars sold in Vietnam a day in the first half of 2016, compared to 8000 new bikes a day.

Even those with cars often use a motorbike to reach their vehicle due to the lack of parking in the Hanoi, however.

"When the government first said people have to use helmets people did not do it, so they had to scrap it," BBC journalist Ha Mi said.

Even after a crackdown on helmet wearing people still flout the rules, refusing to do them up properly or wearing them like caps.

- BBC

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