SA road congestion revealed

2013-04-04 10:00
Moscow has been identified as the most congested city. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Moscow has been identified as the most congested city. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Johannesburg has been identified as the most congested city in SA, according to a survey by a mapping company.

On Thursday, TomTom announced that journey times in South Africa's business hub were increased by 30% in peak driving periods, 5% more than the national average.

Cape Town and Pretoria's congestion is equal at 26% and Durban is the least congested major centre at 18%, according to the data.

South Africa's roads are central to economic growth and according to the National Planning Commission (NPC), part of the reason for the congestion on the roads is the transport of bulk goods.

The NPC recommends that rail infrastructure be increased to facilitate transport of heavy goods over long distances.

New technology

"Railway technology suits the transportation of bulk commodities over long distances at low prices, yet only 11.3% of freight was transported by rail in 2009 (31% of ton-kilometres), with the remainder being transported by road (DBSA 2011a)," the NPC said on its website.

The need to invest in SA's transport is becoming critical and the NPC calculated that in less than 10 years, key routes would require urgent attention to be sustainable for transportation.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) began a programme in 2007 of investing in the development of new technology for South African road construction that is expected to produce a more robust design.

The CSIR and partners have planned to invest R36m in the roads programme that should see an improvement to the ageing road network.

Around 20% of national roads and 40% of provincial roads are in a poor to very poor condition, the agency said.

According to Google Maps, traffic information for peak times in Johannesburg, De Villiers Graaf Motorway, the N3 Eastern Bypass and the N1 Western Bypass suffer the highest congestion between 07:30 and 08:00 on weekday mornings.

One of the ways to alleviate the traffic congestion is the toll system, says the South African National Roads Agency Ltd (Sanral).


The agency says introducing tolls would help deliver new roads infrastructure faster than could be done through normal tax-based processes as well as "ring fencing" funding for the road maintenance.

The NPC however, recommends expanding the passenger rail network to reduce traffic congestion, but said that the ageing fleet represented a significant challenge.

"The old fleet, signalling and sub-stations systems are prone to breakdowns on any given day. The probability of failure is significant - with an extremely high likelihood of trains failing when leaving the staging yard, or signalling installations malfunctioning. This explains the poor reliability of the current system," said the NPC.

While SA's road congestion is challenging, it does not match the global reality.

According to TomTom, the most congested city is Moscow with a rate of 66%, followed by Istanbul (55%) and Warsaw at 42%.

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