The Hanoi Transport Department has taken measures to ensure commuters remain safe during the upcoming Lunar New Year (Tet), the country's biggest annual festival.

Officials said that during the holiday period, beginning January 28, traffic will be 3-4 times higher than normal.

Among steps taken, the department has installed new traffic lights at key traffic intersections, including Tran Thai Tong–Duong Dinh Nghe in Tu Liem district; Nguyen Xien–Kim Giang in Thanh Xuan district; and Phap Van–National Highway 1B in Thanh Tri district.

Director of the department Nguyen Quoc Hung said at a meeting late last week that inter-agency inspection teams, made up of traffic police, traffic inspectors, and police in districts, would conduct more inspections to deter violations of traffic laws, especially in inner districts and on stretches of national highways.

The teams would also attempt to stop street vendors from entering onto roads to do business and causing traffic jams, he said.

Lane separators for automobiles and motorbikes are to be set up between January 15 and February 16, he said.

Also, vehicles with loading capacities higher than 1.25 tonnes would be banned from traveling during rush hours on several streets, including Pham Van Dong, Pham Hung and Thang Long boulevard, he said.

Depending on the situation, the department could also issue plans to adjust the time for taxis being on the roads to reduce traffic congestion, he said.

Colonel Dao Vinh Thang, head of the Hanoi's Traffic Police Office, said that the city now had 49 black zones which often suffer from serious traffic congestion, and 164 other zones which were forecast to have high levels of congestion during Tet.

However, officials said there were not enough traffic police and inter-agency traffic inspectors to control the situation when the traffic density was predicted to be higher than normal, he said.

Thang suggested temporarily suspending coach and taxi drivers from working, if they were found to have violated traffic rules, he said.

In the meantime, department director Hung said that transportation firms might need to reduce the number of vehicles picking up passengers at stations if their coaches or taxi drivers were discovered to be carrying more passengers than allowed, or if they were picking up passengers at undesignated locations.-VNA