The Government has asked HCM City and Hanoi to continue studying changes to working and school hours in order to reduce traffic congestions and the number of accidents by 5-10 percent a year.

In Hanoi, 10 inner districts and Tu Liem and Thanh Tri suburban districts changed school and working hours in February last year.

Senior education facilities open at 6am and close after 7pm; high schools from 7am to 6pm; preschools and primary and junior secondary schools from 8am to 5pm.

HCM City changed its school hours by 15-30 minutes in 2001 but the benefit was small, said Nguyen Ngoc Tuong, deputy head of the HCM City Traffic Safety Committee. He added that most industrial and processing zones were in the suburbs so the new times did not solve congestion in the inner city.

However, Nguyen Ngoc Hien, of the Ministry of Public Security's Road and Railway Police Department, said changing working hours in HCM City has reduced traffic jams by about 30 per cent.

Nevertheless, residents were dissatisfied with the changes which needed to be taken into account, said Hien.

Also, people's committees should control traffic in front of schools, and the schools themselves could coordinate on hours, particularly if they are in the same street or area, he said.

The Government also assigned the Ministry of Transport to restrict personal vehicles in big cities.

Meanwhile, the Department of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs is researching the change of working hours for civil servants.

HCM City has had nearly 80 traffic accidents so far this year, an increase by 34 compared with the same period last year. Meanwhile, Hanoi reported 40 traffic accidents, down seven.-VNA