Cape Town's highways are said to be SA's most congested - how do we fix this?

A recent survey by traffic information network Tom Tom claims that Cape Town is the most congested city in the country and the South African National Roads Agency Limted (Sanral) is reported as saying that Cape Town's N1 and N2 are 'virtual parking lots'.

Capetalk's Kieno Kammies spoke to Marianne Vanderschuren, Associate Professor at Centre of Transport Studies at UCT and Sanral spokesperson Vusi Mona.

Building more roads is not necessarily the answer

Vanderschuren and Mona both agree that the City cannot build it's way out of congestion.

Do we need to build more roads? That is a short term solutions. In the long term; more roads means more cars. You cannot build your way out of congestion. I’m all for looking at certain bottlenecks and doing something about congestion, but building more roads is not a long term solution.

Marianne Vanderschuren

Sustainable modes of transport

Vanderschuren says that the City needs to look at sustainable ways to counter Cape Town's heavy congestion, such as:

  • Non-motorised transport: walking and cycling.
  • Public transport: buses, trains and taxis.

She says the City should explore an integrated traffic and transport plan that is substantiated by scientific research.

Road maintenance

According to Sanral, these traffic conditions are a result of years of under investment in the road infrastructure in and around the City of Cape Town .

Mona says that there is a need for maintenance of South Africa's roads, and that the under investment in road infrastructure is not unique to Cape Town.

In the country as a whole, there is a road maintenance backlog of about R 197 billion. If you don't maintain your roads and don't add lanes, you will sit with congestion.

Vusi Mona

Mona says that the lack of road maintenance, in addition to causing congestion, also affects road safety and causes a number of accidents. He says the R300 is the one of the most congested and under-maintained roads in Cape Town.

The Tom Tom global traffic index 'unreliable'

Vanderschuren says that Tom Tom survey may not be scientifically reliable. She says that the probe data Tom Tom extracts from their tracking technology would require at least 8% of vehicles to be tracked, at any given time, for reliable data.

The methodology that was used measures travel times during the whole day and during peak periods and compares these with measured travel times during non-congested periods.

Listen to the full conversation on Breakfast with Kieno Kammies:


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