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article imageVietnam looks to curb air pollution from motorbikes

By Jack Derricourt     Jul 18, 2016 in Environment
Motorbikes account for the vast majority of vehicles used on the streets of Vietnam. With air pollution on the rise in major Vietnamese cities, government officials are trying out new methods to fix the air quality.
As of 2008, the Guardian reports, 80 percent of trips on Hanoi's streets were made by motorbike or scooter. The growth of car ownership only threatens to place more strain on the traffic infrastructure and the air quality of urban centres in Vietnam. While the Ministry of Industry and Trade states that the current rate of vehicle purchases will see 45 million vehicles on the road by 2020, the slated capacity of the traffic infrastructure for Vietnam is only 36 million.
A sharp rise in particulate matter levels — at one point as high as seven times the World Health Organization's recommended levels — was measured by the U.S. embassy in Hanoi in March of this year. The vast majority of the pollution collecting in urban areas has been credited to traffic, calling Vietnamese officials to action.
Major cities in Vietnam continue to develop their plans for mass transit. Hanoi hopes to see their expanded bus service and new metro project draw in 60 percent of the trips in the city by 2030 — the city's bus line currently accounts for only nine percent of all daily trips. Saigon's breathtakingly ambitious metro project, though over budget and delayed, hopes to open their first, 11-station addition to the city's transit infrastructure for 2020, with four more projects to follow.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Transport in Vietnam has decided to roll out emissions testing for motorbikes as soon as 2018. The tests will be carried out on older vehicles first. Any motorbikes that fail the emissions testing will be required to undergo maintenance, and if the owner resists, a fine will follow.
The Vietnamese government began a project in 2010 to limit motorbike exhaust levels, but it never got off the ground. The recent environmental indications may convince officials and the public that the new legislation is worth enacting.
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