Hanoi’s Subway

October 1, 2010

When I was younger, Hanoi — then the capital of North Vietnam — was subject to massive bombing by the Americans.  Between 1966 and 1972, a huge amount of ordnance was dropped on the city, causing citywide destruction.  How times have changed!

The Vietnamese government has just announced the start of work on a subway transit system for Hanoi.  They will build a 12-station 12.5 km line costing about $1 billion.  The line is scheduled to be open by 2015 and is expected to carry 300,000 passengers a day to ease traffic congestion in the city.  Financing is coming from the French Government ($384m). the Europe Investment Development Bank and the city’s state budget.

The very idea of an entrepreneurial Vietnam with the need for a major subway system financed by Western banks would have been simply unimaginable back in 1972.  Perhaps we should take another look at some of today’s “disaster areas” and recognize that the future can be better than the present. Life does move on.

Diner No.1

October 1, 2010

French Towns Move Away From Trucks And Back To Horse Carts

October 1, 2010

More than 60 French towns have struck on a cheaper and greener way to collect household waste

60 French towns that have struck upon a cheaper and greener way to collect household waste – ditching the dustbin lorry in favour of a horse and cart.Long before recycling became a household word, a Paris prefect called Eugene Poubelle, introduced three separate containers for household waste – glass and pottery, oyster and mussel shells, and the rest – and had horse-drawn carts empty them. Six years later, his surname entered the Academy dictionary as the word for “dustbin”. Now, over a century later, a growing number of French towns are returning to horse-drawn kerbside waste collection, as a better way to recycle …

“By using the horse for garden waste collection, we have raised awareness. People are composting more. Incineration used to cost us E107 a tonne, ridiculous for burning wet matter, now we only pay E37 to collect and compost the waste,” says Mayor Jean-Pierre Enjalbert of Saint Prix, in Greater Paris …

In Sicily, another place bringing back four-hoofed transport, Mario Cicero, mayor of 14th-century town Castelbuono … pioneered glass and cardboard collection using two packsaddle donkeys in 2007. Three years on, Cicero has done his sums and calculated a cost saving of 34%, as well as winning over a sceptical population and putting more donkeys to work.

“Compared with E5,000-7,000 annual running costs for a diesel truck, an ass costs E1,000-1,500 and can live 25-30 years. A truck costs around E25,000, lasts around five years and can’t reproduce,” says Cicero, whose four asinelli have now produced 25 offspring, so he won’t even be buying any more.

De-evolution at its finest!