City wastes millions on dysfunctional traffic control system

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Ho Chi Minh City authorities are apparently stuck with a multi-million dollar traffic control system that has barely worked for several years now.

The system, mostly funded with French ODA and World Bank loans totaling more than US$27 million, has a control center to monitor traffic lights and detect traffic density at several crossroads. The traffic lights were installed by two projects.

The Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper quoted an unnamed officer of the HCMC Traffic Police Division as saying that his agency had requested the city transport department several times to repair the system but nothing has been done.

"The Transport Department and the HCMC Public Lighting Company are responsible for the paralyzed control center and the ineffectiveness of the two projects," he said.

Experts and relevant agencies have suggested replacing the system with local technology to make upgrades and repairs easier.

Currently, there are traffic lights at 641 junctions in Ho Chi Minh City.

The traffic control center had traffic lights at 191 junctions connected to it since it was first launched in 2002. However, connections have been maintained with just 25 junctions on Vo Van Kiet and Mai Chi Tho streets.

The rest of the traffic lights at 166 junctions belong to two projects funded by France and the World Bank.

The first project, funded with French ODA of $4 million, was completed in 2003 with traffic lights at 48 junctions in districts 5, 6 and 11, eight street cameras, two electronic displays and a control center.

However, the system lost connection to the center about a year after it was launched, and cannot be repaired because the electronic board maker has discontinued production of the model, according to the HCMC Department of Transport.

The other project, valued at $23.1 million and funded with a World Bank loan, was completed in 2005. It installed traffic lights at 118 junctions in districts 1, 3 and the city's major thoroughfares.

The lights had sensors detecting traffic density that would send the information to the control center.

However, the control center has lost connection to all the 118 junctions. Officials have blamed this on construction work carried out for underground projects, but no one seems to have come up with a solution to have the traffic control center functioning again.

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