Traffic congestion is the daily bane of almost all residents in Ho Chi Minh City, where more than six million motorbikes and half a million cars now have to fight for space on the streets.
Experts have for years urged the city to have a more radical rethink on how it should tackle the issue.
At a recent conference to discuss the future of the city late last month, many experts once again called for drastic measures to solve the traffic crisis, before it could cause irreparable damage.
"If public transport and non-motorized transport are not developed, the trend of motorization will increase, with all of its negative effects such as congestion, noise, air pollution and accidents," said Nate Chanchareon, managing director of PTV Asia-Pacific, a company that supplies software and consulting services for traffic and transportation.
Megacities will get less livable, and the economy will be hit, he said.
HCMC police have recorded 2,688 traffic accidents so far this year, with 528 people killed and 2,345 others injured.
Cycling and walking
Chanchareon said the increasing motorization will result in more traffic crashes and take away the space that otherwise could be use for business, shopping, residential and leisure purposes.
To bring back the balance, the city has to develop its public transport system and promote cycling and walking in one integrated transportation model, he said.
“A suitable adapted public transport network can reduce effectively motorized traffic, even if the population increases.”
The city has a population of 9 million, well on its way to become a megacity.
Speaking at the conference, organized by the Vietnamese-German University, Yosui Seki of the urban and transportation consultant ALMEC Corporation pointed out that the city's first metro line, which is under construction, needs to be developed for intermodal transport.
“In order to get a sufficient number of railway passengers, feeder bus services and intermodal facilities will definitely be necessary,” he said.
Seki said that those living in Thu Duc District and District 9 are relatively far and that accessibility to the city center will be tremendously improved by the train.
“However, intermodal facilities at respective stations should be designed for high volume of motorcycles,” he said.