Gridlock After One-Way System Introduced

Traffic chaos ensued yesterday morning at the point where Souphanouvong Avenue funnels into Setthathirath Road in central Vientiane, after Fa Ngum Road became a one-way street.

The one-way system was announced at the start of this month, but only came into force yesterday, causing traffic to back up for more than a kilometre along Souphanouvong Avenue during the morning rush hour.

Serious bottlenecks developed at the start of Setthathirath Road, perhaps an inevitable consequence once the alternative paraellel route along Fa Ngum Road was made off limits.

A resident of Sihom village said traffic was at a standstill outside his house from 7:30am until 10:50am, and he had never witnessed such a scene before on a normal working day.

“The only time I’ve seen a mass of vehicles like this before is when they close the Mekong River road for the boat races. When Fa Ngum Road was closed to traffic travelling east today, it was not unlike the situation that occurs during festival time,” he said.

Most motorists were unaware of the announcement that Fa Ngum Road would become a one-way street from the ASEM Villas to the Pakpasak junction in the Sihom area.

Many were surprised, although the authorities had made announcements in the media as well as putting up signs along the road.

One motorist said he didn’t agree with the change, pointing out that for a long time people had been travelling to work via Souphanouvong Avenue using both Fa Ngum and Setthathirath roads.

Lane Xang Avenue, which links to Khounboulom and Samsenthai roads, was also crowded. These streets too became clogged, as motorists headed east in an attempt to bypass Setthathirath Road.

“We couldn’t use Fa Ngum Road today, so vehicles flooded into Sihom village, Setthathirath Road and even Khounboulom Road,” complained a frustrated motorist.

The general consensus seemed to be that traffic flow had become a problem on Fa Ngum Road but, after it was made a one-way street, the congestion shifted to Setthathirath, Khounboulom and Souphanouvong roads.

Laos has imported more vehicles than ever this year, with the category featuring high on the list of imports overall, according to a recent government report. The population of Vientiane now stands at close to 800,000, while the number of registered vehicles exceeds 577,890.

The large number of vehicles being imported refle cts the continuing growth of the economy and the overall improvement in the standard of living, the Vientiane Department of Public Works and Transport noted this week. In the first seven months of this year, more than 39,340 vehicles were registered in Vientiane including 24,292 motorbikes, 3,967 cars, 5,429 pick-up trucks, 1,542 Jeeps, 1,092 vans, 2,886 trucks and 134 buses.

Teams of traffic police were stationed on Fa Ngum Road yesterday to introduce the one-way system to motorists, but they did not succeed in easing the city’s chronic traffic jams.

Source: Vientiane Times