Gov't needs to address worsening traffic congestion issue now, not wait for studies to be done – Loke –

We don’t know if you’ve noticed, but traffic in the Klang Valley seems to have gotten much worse in the past few weeks, notably after the Hari Raya period. More jams seem to be occurring across the city, and not just during peak hours. Former transport minister Anthony Loke has noticed that too, and says the government needs to tackle the issue immediately, the Malay Mail reports.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference, he said that traffic has seen a two-fold increase compared to pre-pandemic times in 2019 as more people return to work. “From news reports, according to the TomTom Traffic Index, congestion at peak hours in the morning and evenings in the capital has become worse in the past seven days, compared to before the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

The TomTom Traffic Index records urban congestion in more than 400 cities worldwide, using data recorded by TomTom navigation devices, vehicle in-dash systems, and the company’s mobile application. The anonymised data is shared publicly, and allows hourly data to be viewed in real-time. Available data for the past 48 hours or seven days can be compared with 2019 and 2021 levels.

Loke added that the jams weren’t just confined to particular time periods, as would be expected. “Before, we only experienced traffic congestion during peak hours, but now even off-peak hours, at 3pm for example, there is traffic congestion,” he said.

This, he explained, was having an impact on motorists’ behaviour. “More accidents occur each day now, although I don’t have the exact figures, but if you drive, you will understand the road condition and how people behave on the road,” he said.

Loke added that this wasn’t only happening in the Klang Valley, but elsewhere as well. Using Seremban as an example, he said he experienced similar traffic congestion during a recent trip to Seremban, taking two hours to make the journey despite the distance only being 60 km.

“What is happening? The government needs to get to the bottom of this. Malaysians cannot wait anymore. Don’t wait for studies to be done, just get down to the ground and try to solve the problems from there,” he said.

Loke said that the matter of tackling the issue shouldn’t just be left to the transport ministry, stating that other ministries should also look into how they can work together to solve the growing problem. “The transport ministry could work with the federal territories ministry, for a start, to address traffic congestion in the Kuala Lumpur city centre. That’s just an example, but it has to be done immediately,” he explained.

Earlier this week, Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) said it will conduct a detailed study on how to reduce traffic congestion in the city, which is becoming increasingly critical. The council said that attention will be paid to certain aspects including traffic light coordination and parking management systems, which have disrupted traffic flow.

Loke said that public transport also had its share of issues. Having decided to give it a go earlier today, he said that the service was not as smooth as he thought it would be. “This is when I realise that Malaysians are facing stress even when they opt to take public transport,” he said.

In posts on social media last week, motorists lamented about the worsening traffic conditions they are facing during their commute to and from work. They said that the situation was forcing many to leave home for work earlier and getting home later, as congestion on the road in the evening now lasted up to 8pm and beyond, something that would ultimately affect one’s mental well-being.

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