New working hours easing traffic situation in Hanoi, official claims

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Hanoi's initiative to adjust working hours has remarkably lessened traffic jams during rush hours on the first day it took effect, chief a city senior official said in a Vietnamnet report Friday.

According to Nguyen Quoc Hung, director of Hanoi's Transport Department, the traffic situation on local streets improved Thursday when the capital city launched its plan to change working hours for students, state office workers and commercial and service centers in ten downtown districts and the two districts of Tu Liem and Thanh Tri.

He was quoted as saying that although congestion still happened on several streets, there were no prolonged jams and traffic density decreased during rush hours.

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But the official also admitted that on some streets they had difficulties controlling traffic between 5-6 a.m. and between 6-7 p.m. due to winter weather and the fact that the operation of traffic lights was yet to be changed in accordance with the new adjustment.

However, the VietNamNet report also noted that while traffic was less dense as compared to before, the time of traffic jams had just shifted to 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., instead of 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. as usual.

Nguyen Hiep Thong, deputy director of Hanoi's Department of Education and Training, told the VnExpress news website that it was impossible to make a full estimate of the initiative's impact at the moment.

"If someone claims that over the past two days, thanks to the adjustment of working hours, local streets have become airier, I think it's too soon to say so," Thong said.

According to Thong, it is not until after the 15th day of the first lunar month (February 6) that tens of thousands of students from universities, colleges and vocational schools come back to school after the Tet holiday (Lunar New Year).

Moreover, it is not until after the first lunar month ends that all workers from other provinces resume their work in Hanoi, he added.

"Only then will the whole traffic picture be shown fully," he said.

Meanwhile, at the moment the adjustment has caused certain difficulties to students and their parents, Thong said.

For instance, it gave students less break time between morning and afternoon shifts, so many them had to go to school without eating anything, he said. Not to mention that leaving school between 7.30-8 p.m. was not safe for those who lived in outskirts areas.

"Although we are facing several difficulties, I think if the adjustment of working hours is truly effective, the whole education industry will be willing to try and overcome the difficulties to make contributions to lessening the capital's traffic congestion," Thong said.

However, the adjustment should be revised, because "after all, students are the ones our society needs to take care of as our priority," he said.

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