Ho Chi Minh City pledged to curb the traffic accidents, aiming to reduce the number of accidents and traffic jams in the country’s economic hub by 10 percent next year.

Speaking at a People’s Council session on Dec. 6, HCM City Party Committee Secretary Le Thanh Hai said to achieve this target authorities must resolve traffic problems and severely punish violations of road rules.

His statements came after lawmakers said voters in Districts 5, 12, Thu Duc, Tan Phu, Tan Binh, and Hoc Mon were demanding that authorities unclog roads.

They urged the administration to widen major roads instead of building many roads at the same time, saying the delay in their construction was causing floods and traffic jams.

Voters in District 12 wanted the city to call a halt to golf courses and focus on building parking lots instead.

Construction of multi-storeyed buildings and apartments in inner districts should be halted, they added, because these would accommodate large numbers of residents, overloading local schools and hospitals and congesting roads.

Duong Van Nhan, a Binh Chanh district delegate, said authorities should “reconsider” the 10 percent target for reducing traffic congestion, calling it “groundless.”

The penalties for traffic violations were “not harsh enough,” he added.

Ha Phuoc Thang of District 3 exhorted Government agencies to impose “harsher” punishment on illegal street racers.

Haphazard parking was one of the causes of the traffic congestion, he said.

The People’s Committee submitted to the council nine reports, including one on renaming the new tunnel under Sai Gon River , which has long been referred to as Thu Thiem Tunnel, as Sai Gon River Tunnel.

During a meeting with district officials on Monday, Nguyen Huu Tin, deputy chairman of the city People’s Committee, said the city has sped up several major transport infrastructure works and hoped to put them into operation by next year.

It was part of efforts to resolve traffic problems around the country and make the Traffic Year campaign in 2012 a success, he said.

According to the city Department of Transport, the works being accelerated include a road linking the Hanoi Highway with the Tan Son Nhat - Binh Loi Highway, the outer ring road, the overpass at the junction of the HCM City-Trung Luong Highway and Provincial Highway No. 10B, and the Rach Chiec, Phu Long, and Rach Tra bridges.

Tin called for reports from related agencies on the progress of eight parking lots that are under construction and the proposed construction of underground parking lots./.