For the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham), banning motorbikes from Vietnam’s streets may not be an effective solution to fight traffic congestion as perhaps now and maybe ten years in the future, infrastructure and public transport in Vietnam’s major cities will not meet transport demand.

Hanoi officials in July announced a ban on motorbikes by 2030, a move that is supposed to ease traffic jams and limit accidents on the city’s roads. The Hanoi People’s Council said it will improve public transport in the meantime, with half of the city’s 7 million people expected to use it by 2030 as opposed to the current 12 per cent.

Cars may be a symbol of wealth in a country where the average annual income is expected to reach $2,400 this year, but motorbikes, with their convenience, have been a part of people’s daily lives and become the most economical solution given Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City’s narrow streets. The ban, therefore, would cause a great many difficulties and inconvenience for urban residents, according to a EuroCham report presented to the Vietnam Business Forum (VBF) 2017 held on December 12 in Hanoi.

Hanoi’s nightmare is hardly unique compared to its regional peers, and neither is its motorbike ban. Lessons can be learned from Indonesia, where a motorbike ban in Jakarta was met with a public backlash and was eventually scrapped by the government due to inadequate infrastructure and public transport.

Such a ban may also cause huge challenges for the country’s motorbike manufacturing industry. “Over the last ten years, the industry has made long-term investments in Vietnam for both the local market and exports, contributing significantly to the country’s socioeconomic development through tax payments and job creation in provinces,” EuroCham noted.

To resolve traffic congestion, pollution, and traffic accidents in large cities, rather than banning motorbikes, “we suggest the government conduct research and study Taiwan’s success, where improved public transport, transport infrastructure, and motorbikes were synchronously combined,” it added.

There also needs to be a comprehensive study of the impact on people daily lives when introducing such as ban, to avoid negative economic consequences. The government may need to manage or ban only outdated motorbikes that cause pollution. “India may be an example, as motorbikes older than 20 years are banned, and plans are in place to enhance people awareness regarding transport safety and regulations,” the report stated.

For now, improvements in Hanoi’s public transport may come later than expected. Just this week, the main contractor of the capital’s first urban railway line, running from Cat Linh to Ha Dong, suggested pushing back the project’s completion to late 2018. This would result in an eleven-month delay compared to the previously proposed schedule, which would have seen test runs in October this year and operations begin by mid-2018.