[EDITORIALS]The trouble with ambition

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[EDITORIALS]The trouble with ambition

Lee Myung-bak, the mayor of Seoul, has proposed a four-year plan, "Vision Seoul 2006," which has been introduced four months after his inauguration. The objective of the plan is to transform Seoul into one of the world's most livable cities. Apprehension abounds on his goal, which seems beyond the bounds of achievable ambition.

First of all, the plans were made too hastily. The plan to restore Cheonggae Stream by 2005 and the completion of the construction of three model cities north of the Han River seem to have been made in haste. We only wonder, "What's the hurry?"

The plan to transform Cheonggae Stream into a clean natural waterway is commendable, but measures to end traffic snarls and the disorder in commercial developments have not even been thought of. Besides development of the Gangbuk area, development of the Magok district and projects for Jangji and Balsan housing sites, which are all part of 20 important development issues, have been introduced.

It worries us that the entire city of Seoul will be turned into a huge construction site: Eighteen sites are being considered for development. This sort of disorganized push for development will lead to many difficulties, including real estate speculation.

Traffic considerations are being taken too lightly. The development of New Town in Gangbuk, which will cause a surge in population, will only worsen the serious traffic congestion. If Cheonggae Stream is restored and plazas are constructed around City Hall, traffic problems are inevitable. Whether the reform of the public transportation system and the functional improvement of partial arterial roads will bring relief is questionable.

Another task by the city is to find 15 trillion won ($12 billion) to resolve these issues. Officials propose the elimination of wasteful spending and introduction of new managerial skills. But the city should present more specific methods -- its yearly budget is only 11 trillion won. Slow progress on the plans will burden Seoul citizens.
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