Hanoi's infrastructure construction in a dilemma
14:43 09/09/2013
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Hanoi has its sights set on becoming a major international city by 2020. The authorities are determined to emulate the success of other South East Asian cities like Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

The signs of campaigning for modernization can be seen in the rapid development of commercial projects such as Hanoi's Royal City, Vincom Village, Indochina Plaza and the continued construction of skyscrapers like the Lotte building on Dao Tan. The face of Hanoi is undoubtedly undergoing a drastic transformation but this transformation is not without its challenges.

To stimulate growth and development, Hanoi is inevitably focused on solving its infamous traffic problem. Anyone who travels around the city can see that the existing infrastructure is struggling with the heavy burden placed upon it by the growing number of motorbikes, buses, trucks and cars.

Hanoi's infrastructure construction in a dilemma
New flyovers have been built to help ease traffic congestion in the capital city

The population of the city is growing, as more and more Vietnamese people leave their rural towns and villages and swarm to Hanoi in search of new beginnings and opportunities. With a growth in population comes a corresponding rise in traffic. This is leading to severe traffic congestion on the road, not to mention an increase in air pollution.

All of these problems are combined to lower the quality of life in the city and disrupt the economic development that Hanoi authorities aspire so desperately for. Air quality is already commonplace and Hanoi certainly does not want to find itself dealing with the levels of air pollution that plague many urban areas of China.

With such grand ambitions, Hanoi authorities have already made preparations to remove infrastructural limitations. The rapid construction of flyovers at some of Hanoi's biggest intersections is part of their plan. For instance, a flyover at the junction of Hue Street-Dai Co Viet has been completed to help ease traffic congestion while another at the junction of Kim Ma - Nguyen Chi Thanh is under construction.

The installation of megaphones on flyovers throughout the city to instruct motorists on how to drive safely will probably be less effective, but it is another effort to make travelling around Hanoi somewhat easier.

Hanoi's long-term plan for infrastructure upgrade includes the construction of environmentally friendly urban rail routes. New train services will be both above and below the city's streets. In some parts of the city they are expected to transport 200,000 people a day. This project is financially supported by major global institutions such as the European Investment Bank, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and is intended to create an effective alternative to private transport.

With one railway line running from Cat Linh to Ha Dong with many stops along the way, the project will completely change the travel habits for hundreds of thousands of Hanoi citizens. The first rail route will be put into operation by 2015, which means that in just a few years from now, many Hanoians can go to work from the nearest train station instead of the nearest car park.

Hanoi is over a thousand years old. Overseeing the transformation of such an ancient city into a modern city of the 21st century is no easy task when it is required to ensure there is no conflict between Hanoi's ancient history and its bright future.

Hoan Kiem lake and the surrounding area have become a major tourist attraction. People from all over the world come to visit and are captivated by the hive of activity along the narrow streets of Ma May, Luong Ngoc Quyen, Hang Bac and Ta Hien in the Labyrinthine Old Quarter where fruit sellers, street vendors, tour operators, restaurants, Bia Hoi's and markets are all familiar sights. Like other streets, they play a small role in making the Old Quarter such a fascinating place.

One apparent option to ease traffic congestion in Hanoi would be to start demolishing some of these historic homes and businesses in order to widen the roads, but to lose such assets would be a devastating blow to local tourism and surely face a lot of opposition from citizens who have resided in Hoan Kiem for decades.

Hoan Kiem is just a case in point apart from De La Thanh, Hoang Hoa Tham , Doi Can, and other important streets for city planners to consider connection with the relocation of residents.

The traditional local markets that thrive throughout the city would likely start to disappear if large communities of people were to be resettled elsewhere. The traditional city lifestyle would start to wither away and this is the true nature of the dilemma facing the people of Hanoi.

There are many cities across the world that have faced similar difficulties on the way to modernisation. Hanoi has reached a point where it has to meet several demands at the same time. The demand for better infrastructure is natural, but really optional in the period of transition to being a developed economy.

On the other hand, however, there are other more important values to preserve than widening the roads for the benefit of tourism and local business development.

Source VOV

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