Traffic problems, land management concern Vietnam lawmakers

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Traffic accidents and congestion in Vietnam are getting more critical, creating an emergency situation, a legislator told a house meeting on October 27.

According to Le Thi Nga, vice chairwoman of the National Assembly's Legislation Committee, traffic is getting worse not only because of people's poor awareness of regulations, but also because of police's sometimes willingness to shirk their responsibilities or to accept bribes in exchange for ignoring violations.

"We [lawmakers] believe that when people who enforce laws don't act strictly, it's obvious that people will ignore laws," Nga said.

She also blamed agencies' lax management in granting drivers licenses and checking vehicle quality for traffic jams and accidents, saying that the fact that people can acquire licenses easily has produced bad drivers, including bus drivers.

In the past three office terms of the National Assembly, or 15 years, more than 150,000 people have died in traffic accidents. Yet almost no officials have been punished for allowing so many accidents take place, Nga said.

She suggested that the National Assembly should have the right to dismiss a minister if traffic problems remain unchanged, to force officials to work more properly.

Also at the October 27 meeting, deputy Le Nhu Tien from the central province of Quang Tri raised his concerns over ineffective management of natural resources, especially lands, although the Prime Minister issued an order to review all wrongly-used lands two years ago.

Tien quoted the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's report that indicated tens of thousands of land use projects are being delayed, leaving nearly 250,900 hectares of land vacant. The projects are managed by 2,455 agencies. Moreover, more than 3,300 agencies are using lands for an incorrect purpose, totaling the misuse of more than 25,500 hectares.

Meanwhile, central areas in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City are in need of at least 1.5 million square meters and 4.8 million square meters, respectively, to build schools, according to the deputy.

Tien said he was also concerned about the massive number of licenses that have been granted for mineral exploitation. He noted that in the past three years, local governments have granted 4,200 licenses - 10 times more than those issued by central governmental agencies.

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