Hanoi offers US$200,000 prize to solve worsening traffic jams

14:49 13/01/2017

The capital seeks public opinions to unblock the gridlock as the city cannot keep up with the rapidly growing number of personal vehicles.

Hanoi’s Department of Transport launched a competition on January 12 seeking solutions from members of the public to solve its serious congestion problems.

The department asked contestants to focus on ideas involving underground parking spaces, intelligent transportation systems and ways to control private vehicles in a city dominated by motorcycles.

The contest will be open from January 19-23 with a first prize of US$200,000 and a second place bonus of US$100,000.

Department Director Vu Van Tien said that Hanoi has been trying to improve its traffic conditions by constructing more highways and overpasses and launching the city's first bus rapid transit route, in addition to more normal buses.

“However, there are still many problems and accident numbers and severe traffic congestion remains high,” Tien said.

Commuters are seen during rush hour on a street in Hanoi. Photo by Reuters/Kham

Statistics show that Hanoi has more than 5.5 million personal vehicles (nearly 500,000 cars and more than five million motorcycles), and an average of over 19,000 new vehicles are registered each month. The numbers are expected to increase to more than 7.3 million motorbikes and 1.3 million cars by 2025.

The land use and housing research company Demographia found that Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City had both allocated less than 10% of total municipal land to roadways—a ratio similar to Bangkok and Jakarta, but much lower than in developed cities. Roads make up over 15% of Tokyo, for example.

To ease congestion amid the rising numbers of vehicles, the city previously suggested banning motorbikes from inner-city streets in the next four years. However, experts said the proposal was unfeasible due to undeveloped and insufficient public transport.

Last September, the city’s top leader Hoang Trung Hai also put forward another plan to make vehicles park only on one side of the road, depending on whether it's an odd or even day. To date, no additional details of the plan have been unveiled.