Saigon Traffic

Is this the craziest traffic in the world?

With one of the world's highest population densities and over 4 million motorbikes, Saigon has what is quite possibly the craziest traffic in the world!



Traffic is becoming a real concern in Saigon and congestion has increased sharply with the influx of new cars since Vietnam's accession to the WTO with frequent reports in the papers such as Thanh Nien, and complaints about the deterioration in air quality. Hundreds of thousands of cars have already been introduced to the city, jamming up the narrow city streets.

Just under 2% of Saigon's surface area is made up of roads - whereas cities of equivalent size such as New York, Paris and London devote between 15 and 20% of their area to roads, giving a lot more space for residents vehicles. Even Bangkok, which is reknowned throughout the region for its severe gridlock devotes 5% of city space to roads.

The rapid increase in car ownership could become a real problem for Saigon if improvements to public transport and other alternatives are not realised in time, yet the recent rise in oil prices has hit the public's pockets hard, and many people have stopped driving motorbikes in favour of bicycles - both pedal powered and electric, which are said to be up to ten times cheaper to run than a motorbike.

There has also been a noted increase in the number of people opting to travel on buses, but current bus routes do not cover all areas of the city leaving some without the option of taking the bus. It will be interesting to see what the future holds, and how the new developments of the East West Highway and Thu Thiem tunnel alter the flow of traffic in the city.

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