Editorial comment – Watch those impatient drivers
14 March, 2023, 12:47 pm
On this date in 2019, we touched on the issue of traffic congestion.It was relevant then as it is now! An article on Bloomberg on January 11 this year suggested traffic congestion is back in the wake of the peaks of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In our case, lockdowns, containment zones and curfews may have quietened our streets throughout the end of 2020 and 2021, but have returned to their normal rates in 2022 and this year.
In the Bloomberg article, traffic congestion in many cities around the world have returned to pre-COVID levels.
And the worst cities in the world for traffic are found in the US and in Europe. This was according to a report by INRIX Research, a transport research company.
It found that 42 per cent of urban areas in Europe had more congestion than before the pandemic, and 39 per cent in the US.
The UK, it noted, was particularly awful, with 72 per cent of urban areas seeing more congestion.
In the UK, the report noted, the typical driver spent 80 hours in traffic in 2022, compared to 51 hours in the US. Back on the homefront, we learnt in 2019 that traffic congestion could pose a threat to national security.
Traffic congestion in our two cities, in Lautoka and in Suva are a frustrating daily experience.
If it hasn’t already attracted attention, then it is about time that someone did focus attention on this growing issue.
It is a frustrating fact of life now for thousands of commuters daily.
A journey that should be taking about 20 minutes to half an hour can stretch to around an hour during peak hour traffic.
That’s the harsh reality of life in many of our urban centres around the country.
Getting to Suva for instance from Nausori will stretch you back at least by an hour and a half if you are unlucky to hit the traffic jams.
Or how about making what should normally be a 10 to 15 minute journey from Laucala Beach Estate to the Capital City, in an hour? Commuters along the Suva to Nausori corridor are living it daily, commuting to and from work and school.
Throw in commuters in Lautoka and Nadi in the Western Division and those in Labasa and you have a national problem.
In 2019, Ministry for Defence and National Security manager corporate services Josefa Ratumaitavuki said the slow traffic movement was an area of concern that had to be addressed to avoid chaos on our roads in cases of emergencies.
The ministry suggested the increasing number of vehicles on our roads at the time had become a national threat.
Accessibility, he said, would be difficult in times of an emergency if there was a traffic congestion. And how true that is today! We now look to stakeholders to address the issue.
According to the ministry’s 2016 bi-annual report, the national combined law and security agencies had identified that if the increasing number of cars on roads were not controlled, it would escalate to a risk to national security. We acknowledge the good work of the traffic police during peak hour traffic.
In saying that, we also call on the powers that be to address the issue of inconsiderate drivers, and to relook at processes of granting driver licences.
It is frustrating to be sharing the road with inconsiderate and impatient drivers daily. Aside from trying to avoid accidents, it can also be very stressful.
So we have a challenge to control our stress levels, and frustration, and arrive on time at our destinations.
Otherwise we may have much more than just a national security concern on our hands if we are not looking after our health.