Cape Town is the country's most congested city. Picture: David Ritchie
Cape Town is the country's most congested city. Picture: David Ritchie

Cape Town - The Mother City's road network was at risk of collapsing, with highways buckling under the pressure of increased private vehicles that ballooned to around 260 000 motor cars that entered the central business district (CBD) every day.

The city, which had been announced the most congested in the country, has acknowledged it did not have the capacity to sustain the surge in private vehicles on the roads.

Exacerbating the problem was that there were nearly three million fewer rail journeys per month during the 2016/17 financial year, meaning train commuters were abandoning the at-times unreliable mode of transport, opting for road-based transportation.

Mayoral committee member for transport, Brett Herron, said this was of serious concern as the biggest portion of public transport users relied on Metrorail to commute daily.

"We cannot have our commuters deserting the rail service and moving to road-based transport – in particular private cars – since this would be a massive set-back for our already congested roads and our city’s long-term sustainability," Herron said.

"We need an efficient passenger rail system and we have stated before that we will assist Metrorail – within our means, given our limited financial and other resources – to address the challenges they are facing. Over the past two to three years our critical but ailing commuter rail system has endured relentless attacks and setbacks due to a number of reasons. These have left the service limping along, with devastating consequences for our commuters and our city’s economy," Herron said.

What had made matters worse was that a R750 million budget which had two years ago been made available for congestion alleviation over a period of five years was not enough.

"It is important to stress that funding remains a challenge – it is very expensive and time-consuming to build new roads... the only long-term solution is for residents to make use of public transport where possible so that we can reduce the number of private vehicles on the roads," Herron said.

The TomTom Index 2017 revealed Cape Town as the most congested city for traffic, followed by Joburg and East London.

Roads agency Sanral's Western Cape manager, Kobus van der Walt, said: "Cape Town faces numerous challenges, namely a lack of efficient and appropriate alternative public transport services."

Van der Walt also attributed "an increase in land use development and a rapid rise in population size" to the city's congestion problem, which, for some road users, meant two to three hours of being in stuck in traffic. 

Automobile Association (AA) spokesperson Layton Beard urged those drivers to negotiate with their employers. 

"If it's possible to start working an hour earlier and then being able to leave an hour earlier in order to skip the traffic, then do it. Another option would be to ask if you can work from home and check in at the office once or twice a week," Beard said.

[email protected]