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Congestion stops traffic in SEA’s megacities

6 – 12 February 2015
China Daily – Asia Weekly

Congestion stops traffic in SEA’s megacities

44 million people are being added to Southeast Asia’s urban population each year. As motor vehicle populations keep doubling every 5 to 7 years, what measures are being taken to tackle traffic congestion? Japnit Singh, Senior Director, Singapore and India of Spire Research and Consulting shared his insights in China Daily – Asia Weekly.

Southeast Asia’s middle-class continues to boom, fuelling car population increases despite the relative lack of infrastructure. According to the Asian Development Bank, the region’s major cities suffer from some of the highest air pollution levels globally – as much as 80 per cent being attributable to road transport.

Singh cautioned that building roads is not a solution, as this region faces severe practical limitations and escalating costs due to shortage of land in urban areas.

In Bangkok for example, roads have the capacity for two million motor vehicles whereas five million ply the city’s roads each day. This has led to the military government approving projects for six railway track routes around the city and three new motorways. The story is no different in Manila. The Japanese International Co-operation Agency suggested improvements in mass transit railway systems for its 20 million inhabitants. As for Jakarta, budget constraints continue to slow down rail and road infrastructure projects.

The issue is a pressing one because traffic jams impact the economy too. Singh pointed out that traffic jams mean increased consumption of fuel and cause employees to turn up late – and fatigued – for work, leading to low productivity. Moreover, congestion at ports holds up foreign trade – with ripple-effects on the economy.

Health complications are not too far behind. According to Jakarta’s Environmental Management agency, the level of lead in the city is 10 times higher than in 2008, standing at 0.33 microgram per cubic nanometer (mcg/nm3) in 2013.

It is crucial for the governments to step in and find the financing to resolve these land transport issues. The solutions will pay for themselves, not just in terms of enhanced productivity and hence tax revenues but also in terms of reduced healthcare costs.

For media enquiries, please contact:

Nidhi Singh
Senior Executive, Group Corporate Communications
Spire Research and Consulting
Phone: (91) 124 646 5499
E-mail: nidhi.singh@spireresearch.com

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