Hanoi's Department of Transport said it would step up public transport inspections to ensure the safety of passengers on Liberation Day and May Day later this week.

Thach Nhu Sy, the department's chief inspector, said vehicles would be inspected to ensure they met road-safety standards. He also said drivers would have their documents checked.

Passenger numbers would also be monitored to ensure buses are not overloaded, he said, adding that buses found to be carrying hazardous materials would be impounded.

Sy said fines of 300,000 VND (16 USD) would be meted out for every excess passenger.

He added that repeated offenders would have their operating licences confiscated.

According to the Traffic Police Department, more than 160 serious traffic accidents took place last year on Liberation Day and May Day on Vietnam 's roads, resulting in 163 deaths and 139 injuries.

In Hanoi alone, nearly 20 people were killed.

The department said there were more than 42,000 traffic violations.

Sy said the department had also ordered bus firms to publish ticket prices.

Nguyen Tat Thanh, director of the Management Enterprise of Giap Bat Bus Station, one of the two biggest depots in Hanoi, said he expected passenger numbers to increase by 20-30 per cent over the holiday period. He said the most popular route was typically between Hanoi and the northern provinces of Thanh Hoa, Nam Dinh and Thai Binh.

Thanh said bus firms were planning to commission an additional 150 vehicles to meet additional demand./.