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Manufacturers, Exporters, Wholesalers - Global trade starts here.
Congestion Fee Ignites Heated Debate

A new proposal to control the number of private cars during rush hour in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu Province, has sparked strongly contrasting reactions.


It has been suggested that private car owners pay a congestion charge to drive during rush hour, local newspaper Nanjing Morning Post reported yesterday.


The proposal is one of the key points of the draft "White Paper for Nanjing Traffic Development," which was finished recently by Nanjing Institute of City Transport Planning and some other consultative institutions.


The new proposal aims to reduce the number of private cars and give priority to buses during rush hour, the local traffic department told the newspaper.


In recent years, the number of private cars in Nanjing has increased rapidly. The average annual increase rate in the past three years has been 50 per cent, bringing the total number of private cars to 700,000 in the city.


However, some residents opposed the proposal.


Although she has not got a car, Ren Cao, an accountant, regards it as unfair for private car owners to pay this sort of extra fee.


"Nobody wants to drive during rush hour, people do so because they have to, even if they have to pay," she said.


"Government should try to find a way to improve traffic conditions, not just charge fees."


A private car owner echoed Ren's opinion.


"I can accept the proposal if all the private cars, taxis and cars owned by enterprises and government departments are charged," said Zhou Guohong, a 38-year-old private car owner. "Otherwise I think it is unfair."


Some people, however, like the idea.


"I support the proposal very much," said Gu Lin, a white collar worker who does not have a car.


Gu leaves her office at 6:00 pm, and experiences the hectic rush hour every day.


"There are so many cars in the streets, no matter whether I take a taxi or go by bus after work," she said.


"The number of private cars should be controlled as soon as possible and an effective way is to charge the owners."


Another car owner supported the charge, but his car belongs to the company he works for.


"I think this is a way to solve the problem of having so many cars during rush hour," said Song Wenwei.


He added that some foreign countries and cities have already adopted this method to control the number of private cars, like Singapore and London.


"However, those countries and cities may not have so many cars owned by State-owned enterprises or the government," he said. "Most of the cars in those places are private."


Nanjing Morning Post reported that the Nanjing municipal government would adopt the draft white paper soon, because it had received local traffic experts' support.


The white paper's major target is to improve traffic conditions in the city, including enabling all citizens to walk to bus or subway stations within five minutes, improving pedestrian and bicycle traffic, enhancing the capacity of public transport, and controlling the speeding of private cars.


(China Daily November 29, 2005)


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