Transport Minister Dinh La Thang committed to reduce the number of traffic accidents by 5-10 percent from 2012, but he refused to answer the question â€œwhen will traffic jam end?â€
Thang was grilled by National Assembly deputies at 8.40am, November 23. He was the first cabinet member who was interpellated by deputies.
â€œIâ€™m quite puzzled because Iâ€™m the first who is questioned by you. I hope that deputies would sympathize with me. This session is like a test. Other ministers who do the test later will do it better,â€ Mr. Thang began, which made deputies laughing. By November 23, Thang has assumed the new position for three months and 15 days.
Highly appreciating Thangâ€™s enterprising working style but deputy Nguyen Ba Thuyen asked the leader of the transport sector to speak about solutions to curb traffic accidents, which is very serious now.
Thang said that the key to reduce traffic accidents is upgrading traffic infrastructure, strengthening management task and improve peopleâ€™s awareness of traffic laws. In addition, some traffic staff commit corruptionâ€¦
Regarding to gridlock in Hanoi and HCM City, the Transport Minister said that the local governments must mainly take responsibility. Thang did not agree with the idea that changing work hour is a temporary and helpless measure. According to him, this is a solution in a comprehensive package of solutions to solve traffic jam in big cities. Gridlock will be never solved if we wait to have all solutions at once, he said.
â€œIf we implement the laws strictly and seriously, there would have not had high-rise buildings in the center of big cities and pavements would have not been leased as parking lots. Local governments and the transport sector must be responsible for traffic jam, then the peopleâ€™s awareness is blamed,â€ he said.
Considering 2012 as the year to restore traffic order in the entire country and to curb traffic jam in big cities, Minister Thang pointed out other measures to reduce snarl-up in Hanoi and HCM City, such as building overpasses, removing parking lots on pavements and roads, raising fines on traffic violation, improving peopleâ€™s awareness of traffic laws, collecting fees from personal vehicles and others.
Thangâ€™s 20-minute answer did not please some deputies. Four deputies stood up to question him again. â€œIâ€™m sympathetic with you but anyone can be a minister if they answer mealy-mouthed like you. Please tell me in how many years that traffic accidents will reduce,â€ Deputy Nguyen Ba Thuyen asked.
Thang said that traffic accidents and holdup are the consequence of economic and social development, which challenge Vietnamâ€™s neighbors like Thailand and China.
â€œWe will have to deal with traffic accidents but I cannot confirm when it will be solved. We will strive for reducing traffic accidents by 5-10 percent a year and for improving traffic situation in the whole country,â€ he said.
Other deputies asked Minister Thang about reasons that cause traffic accidents and snarl-up, including the circulation of outdated vehicles, snail-speed traffic projects, â€œblack spotsâ€ of accidents, etc.
Thang said that the transport sector would strictly cooperate with traffic police and local governments to minimize impacts of on-the-road projects on travelers.
Admitting of corruption in vehicle registration and checking which results in the circulation of under standard vehicles that may cause accidents, Thang confirmed to toughly punish corrupters and managers.
He added that the transport sector would combine with local authorities to reduce the number of â€œblack spotsâ€ of accidents by making lanes and traffic flows, building separation lines and apply modern technology to control big trucks.
Besides traffic accidents and gridlock, the low quality of transport facilities, particularly roads was a very hot topic.
Thang pledged to speed up delayed projects, to choose good contractors and consulters in a transparent manner for the peopleâ€™s supervision. Accordingly, contractors and consulters who fail to meet requirements will be timely replaced.
Answering deputy Nguyen Thi Khaâ€™s question about the quality of HCM City-Trung Luong highway, Thang said: â€œI inspected the road in the morning of Sunday. The quality of this work is not good due to the weak management board and unqualified consulter and supervisor. I suspended the executive director and asked the contractor to repair the road. If the quality is still unqualified, contractors will have to continue performing warrantyâ€.
Deputy Bui Thi An asked why the quality of traffic works is low? Is it because technology or loss? Who will bear responsibility for loss? Does the Ministry of Transport set the lifespan for transport works?
Minister Thang said there are many reasons that lead to low quality of transport projects, including loss. To raise quality and increase the lifespan of construction works, the Ministry will be determined to replace unqualified contractors by qualified ones. However, Vietnam does not have any regulations on lifespan of construction work. He proposed to amend the Bidding Law because the current law prevents Vietnam from choosing capable contractors.
â€œI wish to continue receiving your sympathy and sharing to develop a modern traffic system to meet the expectation of the people and to develop the country,â€ Minister Thang concluded.
The Ministers of Construction, Public Security and Planning and Investment joined Mr. Thang to answer deputies.
Minister of Construction Trinh Dinh Dung said the main reason for holdup in Hanoi and HCM City is the ratio of land for traffic is very low, only 8 percent, while the standard is 22-24 percent. In addition, the population density in Hanoiâ€™s center is up to 25,000-36,000 per a square kilometer while it is only 6,500 in Singapore or Hong Kong. All key transport routes (North-South, East-West highways) go through Hanoi. New residential areas lack schools and hospitals, etc.
Dung said Hanoi and HCM City have implemented many measures to reduce traffic jam but according to him, gridlock will not be improved remarkably in the next couples of years because the increase of personal vehicles and lack of investment capital for transport facilities.
â€œTraffic accidents are very serious. Some people call it â€˜disasterâ€™ or â€˜national disasterâ€™. I agree with the Minister of Transport that 2012 will be the year to restore order in transport and reduce the number of traffic accidents by 5-10 percent annually,â€ NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung concluded.
Minister of Transport Dinh La Thang was born in 1960 in Nam Dinh. He is a doctor degree holder, a member of the 10th and 11th Party Central Committee, deputy of the 11th and 13th National Assembly. Before being appointed as Minister of Transport, he was the Chairman of the Song Da Corporation, Vice Party Secretary of Thua Thien-Hue Province, Chairman of the Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PetroVietnam).
After the question and answer session, hundreds of readers have shown their complete support to and trust in Minister Thang on online forums. They praised Thang is an enthusiastic, enterprising minister and the minister of action, who has blown a new gust of wind. Within a short period of time, he has made many lucid and brave decisions.
â€œVietnamese youth support you, Minister Thang! I hope that other ministers will make such breakthroughs so Vietnam can develop,â€ a reader wrote.
â€œOur country needs more people like Minister Thang. Letâ€™s try Mr. Thang. The people trust you,â€ another wrote.
Many people agreed with Thang that solving traffic jams is the responsibility of the entire society and they call for others to show their support to Minister Thang by practical actions, such as obeying traffic laws.
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