One repetitive story that pops up in every loyal reporters briefcase every 6 months is titled thus or similar : Vietnam auto sales up 79 pct. In the article we hear from automobile analyst Nguyen Van Trung - "The rapid growth of the stock market this year has yielded a big fortune to a new class of investors, and now they are buying cars to indicate their wealthy status." Well thanks for that gem - if I may, and without being facetious, those years of automobile analyst training have paid off. Asia. Developing. Get rich. Buy car. Show wealth. Old news - Merci and Au Revior. . .
The poor old streets of HCMC are now groaning under all these wheels, years of added weight is not their idea of fun. "Automobile sales in the first half shot up to 28,524, a 79 percent year-on-year increase." An article published in April,Vietnam moving from two wheels to four, said "nearly 4,500 cars have been sold in the past three months, a 91 percent increase over the same period last year." Another article published in March this year entitled Vietnam Feb car sales surge amid equity windfalls. Doctor of Cars số hai (Phd) told us "Thousands of people have reportedly made huge fortunes in the recent months, prompting them to buy new house and cars to show their new wealth."
Are you getting the message? I can go back to 2005, and this article from the People's Daily Online,Vietnam's auto sales surge in first 7 months. Same story. And so it goes on...the number of articles about Vietnam's auto industry is staggering. Meanwhile, us non-stock-market-playing two wheeled mortals have to make do with what's left of the tarmac, and eventually, our lungs.
Recently, we found out just how revolting the air we are breathing actually is. Thanh Nien (as you can tell, basically the only news source I consider worthy) recently published reports on the issue of 'dirty fuel' in Vietnam. Here, we are told "It is worth noting that the sulfur content of 0.25 percent in Vietnam is 30 to 50 times higher than in South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, and up to 250 times higher than in Japan, Hong Kong, and the EU." Ooooooo lovely! Thanh Nien followed up the story here with some fighting talk...."With its continued support for the sale of high-sulfur fuels, Vietnam’s Trade Ministry seems to have worried more for fuel importers and distributors than consumers or the country." The story even made it to the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune (here), who commented that "Vietnamese companies authorized to import fuel are resisting buying higher-quality fuel because it is more expensive." Once again, we the people, bow down to you and give thanks for the level of social responsibility you show....and for doing all you can for the city, the people, the country, and the environment in general. Puuuuhlease.
During my commute home from work, a metallic tinge of nasty chemicals on the tongue is hardly what the growling stomach below is asking for. Crossing the canal on Dien Tien Hoang, I glance across to see my apartments shrouded in the thing that shrouded the whole city tonight in a big shroud - a loitering haze of exhaust fumes. Tonight was the worst I have witnessed so far. So now we know that lots of people are buying cars, more than ever in fact, and they are still pumping them full of the dirtiest fuel on planet Earth.
This month, yet more streets in D3 were turned one way. Vo Van Tan is now one way in the same direction as Nguyen Dinh Chieu, all the way from Mac Dinh Chi to Cach Mang Thang Tam. Nguyen Thi Minh Khai is now one way running north west (the same direction as Dien Bien Phu) from Truong Dinh to Phung Khac Khoan. Big blue banners worked hard to get the message across.
It may have relieved some rush hour chaos for now, but with those car sales inevitably continuing to rise, it won't last long. Get used to it.
Edit: Also see this story from TN : Toxic fuels don’t raise the same ire as dodgy soy sauce