HCMC gov't rejects police proposal to limit alcohol trade

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The Ho Chi Minh City municipal administration has rejected a suggestion made by its police to place limits on the trade of alcoholic drinks after 10 p.m. as an attempt to reduce traffic accidents.

Nguyen Huu Tin, the city's vice mayor, said at a meeting on Saturday  that the increase in accidents and deaths was a "very serious" issue, but a ban on sale of alcoholic drinks was not a good idea. The police can check people leaving pubs and restaurants, he said.

Tin said the police should be stricter with drunk drivers, by confiscating their vehicles instead of merely levying cash penalties.

At the meeting, Tran Thanh Tra, head of the police's Road and Railway Traffic Department, said that drunk driving and the uncontrolled alcoholic drink business are among major causes of increasing road accidents.

"We are proposing that the city People's Committee ban the trading of wine and beer after 10 p.m., except for certain areas, and even these areas must be placed under tight supervision of local authorities," Tra was quoted by news website VnExpress as saying.

He said driving under the influence of alcohol accounted for at least 16 accidents over the first three months this year.

There were 213 road accidents that killed 178 people and injured 70 others, marking an increase of 55 accidents and 34 deaths over same period last year.

On April 5, the HCMC traffic police force slapped fines of VND5 million against a senior government official for drunkenly crashing his car into two taxis and two motorbikes in downtown March 30.

Le Ton Thanh, deputy director of the city's Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, was fined for illegal passing and drinking and driving. Also, his driver's license will be suspended for two months.

A number of foreign tourists who visit HCMC have also lamented about the unusual lack of night life here in the southern economic hub.

Night life at tourist staples in the city is most confined to bars or going to bed, they say.

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