Ho Chi Minh, a city of vibrancy and culture, the economic capital of Vietnam and the city which marked the end of the Vietnam war. Ho Chi Minh however is also the city of 7.4 million motorbikes.
Ho Chi Minh was the first stop on our travels around Vietnam and it did not disappoint. The city was an eclectic hub of colonial and modern day architecture, delicious food and warm and welcoming people. The cacophony of sounds and smells were in some places overwhelming however and this was in part due to the enormous amount of road traffic. The never ending streams of automobiles crisscrossed like veins throughout the city filling the roads to brim. To further this an apparent disregard to any form of structured road rules or regulations made crossing the road a whole new adventure in itself.
The ever growing number of motorbikes as well as other automobiles on the streets of Ho Chi Minh is a cause for concern especially for the cities urban environment. Air pollution is a primary worry as highlighted in a government report released on Thursday which indicates that the total suspended particles (TSP) level within the atmosphere, used to measure the mass concentration of particulate matter (PM) in the air, has exceeded safe levels by 2-3 times within the city. Levels on this scale have been seen to cause a number of diseases such as lung cancer. Traffic congestion is also a real issue on Ho Chi Minh’s roads which is leading to high levels of noise pollution and an increasing number of accidents, between January and February 2017 there were a recorded 759 traffic accidents on the cities roads which unfortunately led to 138 fatalities.
To combat this growing issue, Ho Chi Minh city plans to gradually restrict the number of private vehicles on the roads within downtown streets and areas prone to congestion by the year 2030 whilst developing public transport systems within the city. For a city that relies so heavily on private vehicles for transportation the development of public transport that is currently so lacking within the city will be a key mechanism to bring about positive change.
This sound recording was taken as we stood on one of the busier road intersections in the middle of Ho Chi Minh city.