The move came after a truck driver high on drugs last week crashed into pedestrians walking along National Highway No.5 running through Kim Luong commune in Hai Duong province. Eight people were killed and seven others were injured.
The deadly accident occurred just 100m from a pedestrian bridge which connects Kim Thanh commune’s villages along the highway.
The area around the bridge is an accident black spot. One person was killed just last month.
The stairs leading to the bridge are located right next to the highway. To reach the staircase, pedestrians have no choice but have to walk on the highway where cars travel at speeds of up to 80km per hour.
Staircases leading to such bridges are supposed to be located far from the road and in residential areas to ensure safety for pedestrians.
The section of National Highway No.5 where the accident occurred runs through four villages of Kim Luong commune, home to about 4,000 people. Opposite the accident site are the Kim Luong primary and secondary schools. Thousands of students walk on the highway to reach the pedestrian bridge every day.
According to Vietnam Infrastructure Development and Finance Investment Joint Stock Company which is in charge of highway No.5’s management, there are 31 pedestrian bridges on National Highway No.5 running through Hung Yen, Hai Duong provinces and Hai Phong city.
Associate Professor Pham Xuan Mai, former head of the transport engineering faculty of HCM City’s University of Science and Technology has said that the pedestrian bridge that leads directly to the car and motorbike lanes is located incorrectly and breaks the rules. This indirectly resulted in the accident that killed eight people in Hai Duong province.
It is very common in Vietnam to see space for pedestrians encroached or ignored. The infrastructure investors, consultants and Ministry of Transport must be held responsible for the lack of attention to pedestrian lanes. Relatives of the victims can file lawsuits against irresponsible agencies, according to Mai.
Nguyen Ngoc Long, Vice President of the Vietnam Bridge and Road Association said in Vietnam, houses were built along the highway, especially National Highway No.1. This put pressure on traffic infrastructure and increased risks of accidents, he said.
"It is urgent for the transport ministry to review the network of pedestrian bridges and tunnels and put up warning signs to prevent further accidents. Bridge construction units that do not pay enough attention to pedestrian safety must be punished strictly," he said.
"For future planning, we should look to move residential areas far from highways."