Congestion in Cape Town and Johannesburg remains one of the biggest headaches for South Africans. Unfortunately, the problem only seems to be getting worse year on year. In 2016 traffic app developer TomTom declared Cape Town the most congested city in the country, informally taking the title from Johannesburg.
Cape Town has retained the rank of most congested city since 2016, with congestion rates increasing by 5% this year according to the source. Johannesburg remains the 70th most congested city in the world (against Cape Town’s 48th place ranking) with an annual increase of 3% in congestion. The Mother City now strains against the boundaries of insufficient infrastructure as a congestion rate of 35% means that every trip takes over one third longer to complete than it should. Johannesburg comes in just under that at 30%.
But the congestion rating averages of 35% and 30% are simply that, averages. Looking at peak traffic periods in isolation yields an even bleaker reality. Peak morning traffic levels occur for both cities between 08:00 and 09:00 and the morning peak congestion levels for Cape Town are reported at an astounding 75% with Johannesburg at 62%. Evening levels looks similar to these figures but a few percentage points lower. This means that residents of two of South Africa’s most vital economic hubs are saddled with trips which take nearly twice as long as they should.
This, coupled with the country's rising petrol costs and high rate of traffic accidents, spells a long-term, significant problem for the government to solve. While facing a water crisis, the local DA government of the Western Cape was trying to push public transport as the solution to the problem for Cape Town, until the untimely bus strikes of April/May, which may have put many commuters off the idea. While some expenditure on increased infrastructure appears to be on the schedule local government spokesmen say that it will not solve the problem in the long run.
City officials have advised South Africans to avoid chaotic peak traffic periods between 17:00 and 18:00 and the morning peak between 08:00 - 09:00, but this is an even less likely option considering that most work in city centres and need to be there between those hours for work. Until the new infrastructure arrives, making use of public transport and negotiating with your employer for flexi-time working hours are the mostly likely solutions. Greater congestion levels also contribute towards greater rates of accidents on the roads so remember to look into comprehensive Car Insurance to guard against costs associated with damage to your vehicle.
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