Confiscated Motorbikes Pile Up as Vietnam Goes After Drunken Driving

Motorbikes — the preferred mode of transport in Vietnam — are piling up in impound lots in Ho Chi Minh City as it becomes more cost effective for some owners to abandon them than to pay the fines to get them back.

The city, Vietnam’s financial center, has gotten more aggressive in targeting drunken driving in recent years by raising fines and confiscating vehicles. Those fines are now often higher than the value of the vehicles, which many drivers are not reclaiming, officials say.

Now the police are wondering what to do with them.

A police officer managing traffic in Ho Chi Minh City in January. The increase in cars has had tangible effects on Vietnam.Credit…Linh Pham for The New York Times

Some residents are so frustrated by this that they are airing their complaints publicly, even though criticizing the ruling Communist Party can be risky in Vietnam.

Nguyen Khang, 30, who works at a bank in Ho Chi Minh City, said an inefficient and needlessly punitive system was holding motorbikes “hostage.”

“The relevant authorities also understand this,” he added. “But fundamentally, they have not yet found a more holistic approach.”

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