Hanoi authorities yet to adjust working hours: official

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Hanoi authorities are still considering a proposal by the Ministry of Transport to adjust government office working hours as a bid to reduce traffic congestion during rush hour in the capital, Hanoi's Communist Party unit chief told the press.

Pham Quang Nghi, secretary of the Hanoi Communist Party Committee, said authorities should listen to feedback from the public, or conduct a survey, to see whether the proposal is feasible or not.

Under the proposal, state offices and agencies based in Hanoi will start their workday at 9 a.m. and finish at 6 p.m., one hour later than the current timetable (8 a.m.-5 p.m.).

Meanwhile, public servants at local government offices will go to work at 8:30 a.m. and go home at 5:30 p.m., according to the proposal.

The Transport Ministry also suggested altering school timetables for kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools and universities to avoid the overlap of school and work hours.

It proposed that city-based shops and department stores open at 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 p.m.

According to Nghi, the proposal needs thorough consideration because it would affect the daily lives of local people.

He said the government had asked the Transport Ministry to submit a plan on the adjustment of working hours in the first quarter of 2012.

"We must have comprehensive measures to solve traffic congestion problems, and the top priority is to improve the quality of traffic and transport infrastructure. For instance, we should develop monorail and metro systems, along with more buses," he said.

"Next, we should take measures to regulate the operation of public transport means and personal vehicles in a proper way."

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Nghi also pointed out that limited awareness of street users had contributed to traffic congestion in Hanoi.

"In fact, the density of people and vehicles in Hanoi is not as high as that in many other cities around the world such as Bangkok, Singapore or Hong Kong.

"Since people do not follow all traffic rules, they create a mess on the street."

According to Nghi, if the education tool is not effective enough, there should be better law enforcement to make them comply with the rules.

"We should raise fines for traffic violators, especially those who contribute to congestion."

Hanoi has around 1,650,000 kindergarten children, elementary, middle and high school students, and around 354,000 public servants.

Recently, Transport Minister Dinh La Thang released a message calling on all ministry staff to use buses in a bid to promote the vehicle as the primary means of public transportation.

The minister has asked all officials to use buses at least once a week and to encourage their family members and relatives to opt for buses instead of private vehicles in the country's two biggest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

However, Nghi said Hanoi authorities did not have a plan to call on public servants to use buses.

"We must consider the feasibility of the plan. I don't think we have enough buses to cater to the needs of all citizens."

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