Old motorbikes will be checked once a year to ensure they are not producing excessive levels of exhaust fumes, according to a proposal by the Vietnam Register.

The proposal is expected to be submitted to the Ministry of Transport by the end of this month, and will then be passed to the Prime Minister for approval. If accepted, the new scheme will begin in the middle of next year.

The proposal follows the Prime Minister's Decision 909 issued on June 17, 2010 which approved a project on limiting levels of motorbike exhaust fumes in a bid to reduce air pollution.

The new rule on mandatory exhaust fume checks will apply to motorbikes that have been in use for more than three years.

Director of the Vietnam Register Trinh Ngoc Giao said the agency intended to assign motorbike manufacturing firms such as Honda, Suzuki, Piaggio and Yamaha to set up stations for verifying exhaust fumes.

"The firms have enough staff and motorbike warranty stations for repairing motorbikes that are found to fail to meet standards on exhaust fumes," he said.

In addition, any enterprise that has employees that are qualified in verification and the standard equipment to check exhaust fumes, can register to set up verifying stations.

If a motorbike did not meet standards on exhaust fumes, the owner must have the motorbike repaired and then re-verified. If it still does not meet the standard, its owner faces a fine from traffic police, according to Giao.

He said that meanwhile, the most important work in expanding the Ministry of Transport's programme on verifying motorbike exhaust fumes was to raise public awareness about the issue as the new rule would affect millions of motorbike drivers.

In Decision 909, the Prime Minister asked for the setting up of a network of motorbike exhaust fume verifying stations, with at least 100 stations in Hanoi and 150 others in HCM City established during the 2010-13 period.

From 2013-15, the Government hopes 80-90 per cent of motorbikes in Hanoi and HCM City meet standards on exhaust fumes.

The country now has more than 30 million motorbikes, according to statistics from the Vietnam Register.-VNA