More than 2 million residents in the capital city today start their new work hours following a Government decision to stagger start times in a bid to ease traffic congestion during rush hour. But the new daily routines are causing headaches for many students and workers.

Office workers, school teachers and students at the kindergartens, elementary, middle and high schools are subject to the time adjustment.

Students at high schools and higher education levels start at 6.30am and end at 7.30pm; kindergartens, primary and secondary schools start at 8am and finish at 5pm; while workers at trade centres start at 9am and end at 7pm.

Nguyen Hiep Thong, deputy director of the city's Education and Training Department, said teachers might find the new hours difficult, as their working day has become one to two hours longer.

"Students also have to form the new habit of concentrating very early in the morning and late in the afternoon at school. The number of students coming to school late will increase," he said.

Le Tho, personnel officer at Dinh Cong Vocational Training School, said the school usually has three shifts a day: 7am-12am, 12.30pm-5.30pm and 6pm-9pm. "Now with the time adjustment, the third shift is impossible to maintain because the second shift will last until 7.30pm and accordingly, the third shift will go from 7.30pm and 10.30pm, and the school cannot stay open that late," he stressed.

The school has yet to figure out any solution to this except for temporarily closing classes during the third shift.

"A salary adjustment for teachers also needs to be considered as they now have longer working days.

"The school is struggling to find proper solutions."

Luong Tuan Anh, an eleventh grade student at Chu Van An High School, said his new class time from 3pm to 7.30pm will leave him exhausted, and he will be unable to take part in other activities after class.

The adjustment to work hours for people employed at offices is also causing headaches as many now have to find someone to pick up their children from school.

Nguyen Thi Mai, who lives on Dong Da District's Truong Chinh Street, said she has had to hire a motorbike driver near her house to pick up her five-year-old child and feed him while she will be still at work.

"This is my only solution and I am really worried about my son's safety," she said.

Mai and Anh also do not know how their family members can gather for dinners following the adjustment.

Meanwhile, the city's Transport Department and other relevant agencies have planned to support commuters on their way to work.

Nguyen Quoc Hung, director of the Transport Department, said the number of buses during peak hours has been increased, while new express bus services has also been established to serve students in the early morning and late evening.

Thong, deputy director of the Education and Training Department, said that during the next two weeks the department will allocate inspectors to schools and universities to check on the implementation of the new schedules. If needed, more adjustments will be put forward, he said.

The city's police plans to redirect traffic flow and adjust traffic light systems to further improve transport for residents.

Along with this time adjustment, Hanoi has implemented a project to divide more streets into separate lanes for cars and motorbikes to ease traffic jams.

Doan Minh Tam from the Transport Science and Technology Institute said a shortage of land for traffic infrastructure and poor public transport systems are the main reasons for traffic congestion, so easing traffic during rush hour and redistributing flow to other time slots during the day was necessary as a short-term solution.

According to the city's Transport Department, nearly 4 million motorbikes, 1 million bikes and more than 500,000 automobiles are on the city's streets each day, while public transport services meet only 9 percent of residents' transport demands.

The city's land for traffic infrastructure now accounts for only 7-8 percent of the total urban area while according to research, 20-26 percent of the city land is needed to construct modern traffic infrastructure capable of alleviating the city's traffic problems./.