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June 2016

Vietnam’s Monkey Bridges: could the solution come from South Korea?

Phuong Thi Minh Tran's picture


It is not often that I get to connect Youtube videos, tabloid headlines, and a study tour to the Republic of Korea to a project I am working on, especially when it involves improving connectivity for the poorest minorities in the furthest parts of Vietnam, such as the Mekong delta.

Vietnam’s temporary monkey bridges are not your ‘normal’ problem. Made of locally available materials such as bamboo, rope, and wood, have long been the mainstay for rural communities – often ethnic minorities – living in the remote sections of the Mekong Delta.  Though sometimes tourists romanticize them – as this Youtube video shows – even in the best of times they add considerably to the hardships of life in the delta.  Moreover, they do not offer even this minimal level of service year round.  As this article and video illustrates – when the river is in spate – more dramatic solutions are often necessary. You’ll see this family crossing the river where the father puts the kids in a plastic bag and carries them across the river so they can go to school. 

Unlocking the transformative power of waterways

Karla Gonzalez Carvajal's picture


Transport history was in the making a few days ago when a Bangladeshi ship carried a consignment of
1,000 tons of steel and iron sheets from the Port of Kolkata in West Bengal to India’s northeastern states, through Bangladesh. This first-ever transshipment of transit goods marked the formal launch of transit trade and transport between India and Bangladesh using a combination of river and land routes. 
 
Senior government officials and top diplomats from both countries, including the Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka, the Bangladesh Minister and Secretary of Shipping, the Senior Secretary of Commerce, and officials of the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority, attended an inaugural ceremony to observe the unloading of goods at Ashuganj Port on the bank of the Meghna River, according to media reports. The general cargo terminal at Ashuganj Port will be rehabilitated and modernized under the newly approved regional IDA project to support Bangladesh’s waterways to handle the loading and unloading of large volumes of cargo.

Who Cares about Running the Buses and Trains on Time?

Tatiana Peralta Quiros's picture
When we evaluate the benefits of public transport projects, we often focus on travel time (in terms of distance covered), vehicle cost savings, accident reductions and environmental impacts (air emissions and greenhouse gas reductions), which are all important dimensions of a project, but not the only ones. The reliability of transport services and information delivery regarding routes, frequencies and arrival time at each station, is not frequently included in the benefits of transport projects because it is difficult to gauge the significance and value of even a 5-10 minute difference in waiting time.
 
In light of this challenge, we began to explore the following question: what are the real implications of waiting time, frequency and reliability of transport systems in terms of improving access to urban opportunities such as education and health services?
 
In a series of blogs, we introduced a new tool that helps us quantify urban accessibility to such services. This tool allows us to calculate how many opportunities -be it jobs, schools, hospitals- become more accessible using public transport. The tool is also useful for comparing various transportation scenarios, modes of transport, service and infrastructure plans, as well as for better understanding land use and spatial patterns.