The Prime Minister has approved a Ho Chi Minh City plan to apply higher vehicle registration fees and traffic violations fines than the rest of the country in an effort to ease traffic problems in the southern hub.
PM Nguyen Tan Dung gave the nod to increasing the registration fees for personal cars of up to seven-seats to VND20 million (US$1,070) from the current VND2 million ($107). He also approved annual vehicle fees for the first time, which will be VND500,000 ($26.7) per motorcycle and VND5 million ($267) per personal car of up to seven-seats. But it was unclear when the new rules would be applied.
Traffic tickets for illegal turns, parking, stopping, running red lights and driving in prohibited areas have upped tenfold from VND100,000 to VND1 million.
For motorcycles, the minimum fine was increased from VND80,000 to VND500,000 for running red lights, driving in restricted areas and deliberately driving side by side with other motorcycles.
The plan also proposed an increase in fines against other illegal use of sidewalks and street space from VND50,000 to VND200,000. This measure aims to curb illegal parking and the use of sidewalks and street space for signboards and hawkers.
The city has placed extra hope in reducing gridlock with the higher fines and registration fees because its only other traffic alleviation plan so far to impose a toll on cars in downtown HCMC has been nearly universally decried as unworkable.
Nguyen Minh Dong, a traffic expert from Germany, said it would be entirely unreasonable to charge car users $2 every time they enter the city center, considering that highway toll fees in the US are only 80 cents.
But Do Van Dung, vice rector of HCMC University of Technical Education, said if toll fees were set too low, they will be ineffective. However he also said high fees could be unfair for drivers, especially as local traffic infrastructure is still far from perfect.
HCMC-based Innovative Technology Development Corp. and UK-based consultancy firm WSP Group have been authorized to set up an Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) system to help ease traffic congestion in the city.
The ERP system, in which tolls are collected automatically from onboard devices, has been applied successfully in Singapore, but critics have been quick to point out that Vietnam is very dissimilar from the authoritarian city-state.