If you are wondering why the traffic congestion in the country does not improve, it could be because Malaysians are driving even more than before!
Recently, NST reported that the number of registered vehicles in the country has now surpassed the total number of the human population.
Road safety expert Professor Dr Kulanthayan K.C. Mani of Universiti Putra Malaysia said that there were 33.3 million registered vehicles nationwide compared to 32.6 million people in the country in 2021.
The report reveals that 47.3% of the 33.3 million registered vehicles were cars, 46.6 % were motorcycles and 4.7% were goods vehicles, while the remaining were buses, taxis, self-drive car rentals and others.
Dr Kulanthayan explained that the traffic congestion is largely contributed by the high vehicle ownership in the country, and the situation is worsening over the years, especially during long holidays.
He said that the country’s population was recorded at 32.5 million in 2019 and increased between 300,000 to 400,000 annually, bringing it to about 32.6 million in 2021.
“What is surprising here is that the vehicle population in 2019 was 31.2 million. Subsequently, it increased by one million every year. In 2021, it was registered at 33.3 million.”
“For the first time ever, in 2021, the trend of vehicle population outpaced the human population. Over all these years, it has always been the reverse.”
“The vehicle population now is high. If this trend continues yearly where vehicles are rising to the tune of one million, then we are going to face even more horrendous traffic congestion,” he said.
He also noted that the traffic condition will improve slightly after the weeklong school holiday but it is common for the traffic to be congested during festivities and peak hours.
Meanwhile, Dr Kulanthayan said the pandemic had brought about domino effects on traffic conditions, where the government’s introduction of the automotive sales and services tax exemption in June 2020, which was extended to 30 June 2022 is a contributing factor to the soaring number of vehicles in Malaysia.
“Now, we are seeing even more vehicles on the road and this could contribute to traffic jams. That is why you see this happening nationwide and not just in the Klang Valley.”
“The pandemic had also caused some to lose income and they had resorted to taking on several jobs which means they are travelling multiple times a day and spending more time on the road. Some may have taken up p-hailing and e-hailing jobs, which was in demand and allowed during the Movement Control Order period.”
“Money-strapped families may also have an extra family member going out to work now to sustain their household, what more with the rising prices of food. Now they are forced to work so it adds on to the extra people making travels.
“Whatever work they embark on, it attracts more travel and the use of vehicles,” he added.
Nonetheless, Dr Kulanthayan also advised the government to not build more highways or add more lanes to existing roads as it will not solve the traffic congestion that we are facing.
He said the government should instead invest in the nation’s public transport infrastructure, especially the rail-based public transportation system.
“It is the government’s duty to provide public transportation and when they do that, it is best to channel more to rail-based public transportation and we also need road-based public transportation for ‘first and last mile’ connectivity.”
“However, there should be more rail-based public transportation because it is much safer compared to road-based transportation due to the presence of various types of vehicles on the road. Rail crash incidences are very low,” he said.
Besides that, he said industries should also play a part in helping reducing the traffic congestion.
One way he suggested is that industries could provide transport for their employees or give travel pass subsidies or incentives for their employees to utilise the public transportation systems.
Alternatively, he said employers can reintroduce the work-from-home policy on a rotational basis to help reduce the traffic jam. He added that this policy had worked well during the lockdown and should be continued.
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