What can be done to keep trucks out of the city centre during rush hour?
Peak traffic hours at the start and close of business and schools each day is when traffic congestion is at its worst. Trucks and other vehicles carrying freight have been banned from Vientiane’s streets during business hours to help ease the problem. But these rules are often flouted and the city’s traffic jams are as bad as ever. Vientiane Times asked some local residents what they think needs to be done.

 

Ms Daly Vongphachan, a college student in Xaythany district: I think congestion on our roads is an important issue.  We should seek ways to resolve it as soon as possible because accidents are more likely when there are so many vehicles around. I know the police try to help and there are regulations to improve the situation but most drivers don’t pay any attention at all to road and traffic rules.  It would be ideal if businesses scheduled their freight deliveries for times outside of peak hours.

Mr Thongsamai Keosombath, an employee in Sisattanak district: I believe it is the rule that all large vehicles must avoid the city centre between 7am and 4pm to ease congestion. I have heard rumours that the police have issued warnings to truck drivers travelling within the city limits between these times, but I don’t know how strongly the rules are enforced.  I notice trucks driving through the city in the middle of the day quite regularly. Sometimes they are overloaded with soil and building materials without any cover.  I would like to see police and officials monitor the situation more closely.             If hefty fines were given to rule breakers rather than just warnings, there might be a greater incentive for people to do the right thing. I would also like to add that road markings could be clearer and better placed on many streets. The likelihood of accidents increases dramatically when lanes are not clearly defined. 

Ms Petnoy Xamounty, an official in Naxaithong district: There are regulations to stop trucks, trailers and container trucks from entering the city during specified times. I think the biggest vehicles should stay out of the city centre altogether. So often you see trucks with uncovered loads that drop dirt and debris after every pothole.  Trucks are making our city dirtier and dustier and I worry that one day an accident will be caused. It’s quite hard to resolve this issue because business operators are more concerned about getting their jobs done than obeying road rules.  Tougher penalties might force people to obey the rules and be more considerate.

Mr Noy Syinsarn, a resident of Xaythany district: The number of vehicles on the road increases every year but the roads remain the same. It is little wonder congestion is becoming a big problem for Vientiane. Improvements to the streets would go some way towards reducing congestion. Drivers disobeying the rules helps no one. It would be good if all sectors worked together to make driving on our roads as quick and easy as possible. Campaigns to alert drivers to the regulations would benefit our streets too.

Major Sangkhom Phommalath, Deputy Director of the Vientiane Traffic Police Department: The public works and transport sector and the Vientiane Traffic Police Department have tried to solve the congestion issue.  We have informed business operators about the regulations on many occasions. Often, the rules are obeyed for a short time after we have brought them to people’s attention, but then the number of rule breakers returns to previous levels. I can assure all readers that we try every day to keep the traffic flowing as freely as possible but there are few traffic police and many violators.  It is impossible for us to catch all wrongdoers, but we will keep trying our best. I kindly request all drivers to respect the rules of the road. In the meantime, more cross-sector consultations are planned as a means to find a workable solution to the city’s ongoing traffic woes.

By Lamphone Pasanthong
(Latest Update February 4, 2019)


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