Widening the roads won’t end traffic jams

By Kazim Alam

Are you tired of being stuck in a gridlock every evening? Do you expect traffic jams will disappear once the Sindh government widens all major roads in Karachi?

Let me break it to you: jams are here to stay – at least until we adopt a proper public transport system.

Here’re a couple of statistics that demonstrate the uselessness of road expansion projects in Karachi.

Outstanding auto loans in Jan-Mar amounted to Rs137.4 billion, up 35 per cent year-on-year. Meanwhile, the number of cars sold in the same three months went up 13pc on an annual basis.

Banks are helping people buy more cars. These cars are choking our roads. Widening the roads won’t fix the traffic mess. That’s because increasing the width of thoroughfares will accommodate more cars for a while, and then won’t.

Automakers roll out cars day in day out as banks happily extend car financing at low interest rates. “Nowhere in the world did flyovers and underpasses ever solve traffic problems,” economist Kaiser Bengali once told me in an interview.

The solution lies in managing the car ownership rate while building a public transport system that’s reliable, affordable, expansive and environment-friendly.

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