ITEC Essay Game 2012 – ‘Think Different’

The traffic problems that we all incur is a real socio on economic dilemma for Vietnam. Many relieving initiatives have been tried and tested but not all have succeeded. Discuss the main causes and offer an original solution to this increasing problem.

There is no doubt that Vietnam has been facing with a crisis of traffic. While railway and river traffic are still underdeveloped and the aviation industry is taking its first steps, the condition of road traffic in major cities has appeared to be the most worrying one. More than 14.500 road accidents, 11.500 casualties, and 2.200 hours of traffic jams each year are frightful figures that reflect the serious consequences – a real ‘socio-economic dilemma‘ for such a developing country like Vietnam. Solutions which mostly focus on repairing and upgrading roads have been proposed and tested, but not all have shown results, proving that the main causes are not only the weakness of the road infrastructure but also people’s civic responsibility.

Traffic Jam on Phu Nhuan District, HCM City (Wikipedia)

Traffic jam on Phu Nhuan Dist., HCM City (Wikipedia)

The Vietnamese seem to be ‘always in a hurry’. People try to be faster than the others, even when they know that it could make everyone slow down. Red lights are often not obeyed, and signs or speed limits are routinely ignored. Riders honk their horns constantly, often for no apparent reason, and observe the rules only when seeing policemen. Most of the people here are undisciplined when travelling and some of them are even irresponsible. Serious traffic violations of reckless and callous lorry drivers have recently caused something of a stir among the public. The problem has become so serious that drivers who follow the rules strictly are some times even looked at like ‘aliens in helmets’… Moreover, poor services and the inconvenience of the bus and coach systems make many people say no to them though they are more saving. It is so clear that the Vietnamese’s awareness of traffic safety really has to be raised as soon as possible.

Higher standard of living and urbanization have led to the increasing number of vehicles. With heavy traffic density and the nightmare of road works. Ho Chi Minh City is now one of the world’s capital of motorcycles. No one can deny that the nationwide poor road condition needs to have an answer, but constructing so many work at the same time could be ‘more haste, less speed’. Moreover, this progress also requires massive and long-term government investment, which becomes another burden on the fledgling economy of the country. To accept the present substructure and try to resolve what lies at the root of this problem maybe the best solution at the moment.

“This is not the first time it has been considered. It has just not been considered in the right way!”

All the incentives to follow the rules, to use public transport, to cycle and walk more, or to avoid drunk driving, etc. did not succeed. The fact is that we have been insisting on mobilizing so much, but almost forgotten about the government’s policies and laws which are more realistic. With people’s low intellectual standard and the current facile riding test, it would be difficult to change their habits without using strict sanctions.

Theoretically, any promulgated laws must not be done by halves, and only appropriate regulations can have deterrent effects. As the famous slogan ‘Think different!’ from Apple Inc. and legendary Steve Jobs, it is about time we had to make people ‘think differently’ and change their own traveling habits: from ‘faster’ to ‘smarter and cheaper’. Therefore, policy approaches should attempt to provide either strategic alternatives or encourage greater usage of existing alternatives through both promotion and restrictions. For example, buses would be more favourable to people if we can just improve the timetabling and greater priority for buses to reduce their journey time. In addition, road tax should be raised, while oil subsidies should be stopped to lessen the amount oil vehicles and prevent oil smuggling. Encouraging online shopping and formalization is another potential remedy, along with tightening the riding licensing. To achieve these aims, mass media combined with education also plays a very essential role. Generally, legislation and promoting can not be separated.

Double-deckers have entered service on Saigon Buses route 6 from China Town in Dist.6 to University of Agriculture and Sylviculture in Thu Duc Dist.

Double-deckers have entered service on Saigon Buses route 6 from China Town in Dist.6 to University of Agriculture and Sylviculture in Thu Duc Dist. (Wikipedia)

Nevertheless, we can not keep telling people what to do without helping them to do it. That means the public transport as the roads also have to be ameliorated, requiring a smart and suitable urban programme. Monorail system and double-decker have been proved to be optimum for the condition of Vietnam and approved by the Department for Transport, which is a positive sign. Overall. making people feel content and reliable with the public transport is still the best relieving way.

Obviously, this complicated equation cannot be solved in a couple of days, and we may have to wait for another decade to see the results of today initiatives. This 2012 is the year of ‘national traffic safety’. And we – the responsible – are the on ly ones who can make a change. Hand in hand, we will do it with patience for a better traffic, and for a better future of Vietnam.


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