A report by the transport directorate revealed that traffic congestion in Cape Town costs the city R2.8 billion a year. Picture: David Ritchie/African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Town - Traffic congestion in Cape Town costs the city R2.8 billion a year as the failure of people, goods and services to reach their destination in time leads to lower job growth, loss of productivity and decreased attractiveness for investment.

This is according to a report by the transport directorate, which said 95% of public transport users in Cape Town were in the low- to medium-income groups, in which transport costs were estimated to account for up to 45% of monthly household expenditure.

“A well-functioning public transport system is fundamental to addressing worsening congestion and providing the residents of Cape Town equitable access to economic opportunities,” said the report.

“However, if public transport improvements are not implemented, the city faces the risk of both worsening congestion and further constraints on the ability of lower-income groups to access economic opportunities.” 

President of the Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Geoff Jacobs, said: “There is no doubt that traffic congestion during morning and afternoon rush hours is appalling. Commuter times are often more than an hour by motor car, even to and from nearby suburbs.

“It is far worse from outlying suburbs. Few employers would willingly establish offices in places that create such situations for their staff.”

Jacobs warned of the impact traffic congestion had on the local economy.

“Empty office buildings mean less rates payable. Harsh commuting times mean no new office buildings in the city... and less future rates payable.

“City employees also suffer the consequences of congestion.

“Staff arrive late and need time to recover until they can work, leading to inefficiencies, poor customer service, stress-related illness, more sick days taken, and so on. Companies wanting to attract the best available talent have to pay more to attract and keep them. The costs are often hidden, but they are there.”

In 2017 KPMG released a report titled, ‘The economics of rush hour traffic’, detailing how much time South Africans spend in traffic and how much it cost the economy.

The report found that Cape Town was the most heavily congested city in the country, followed by Johannesburg and East London.

Transport consultant Gail Jennings said: “As more South Africans enter the (relative) middle class, transport behaviour changes towards the use of private vehicles, and emissions grow exponentially.”

There was a simple solution to congestion, she said. “Invest in public transport, not more lanes for traffic.”

Mayco member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos said: “There is no denying the impact of traffic congestion on the economy due to the extended time individuals spend on commuting.

“Therefore, council’s approval for the extension of investment incentives to a further five industrial areas in Cape Town was welcomed.

“This decision was based on the success of the incentives offered in Atlantis Industria.”

Mayco member for transport Felicity Purchase said: “The City of Cape Town’s longer-term vision is to develop an integrated, efficient, safe and affordable public transport system that includes urban rail, bus services, minibus taxis and all other forms of public transport modes.”

@MarvinCharles17

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Cape Argus