Editorial comment – Addressing our traffic congestion

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NOW that we are told traffic congestion could pose a threat to national security, there will no doubt be added interest on how we deal with the issue.

It seems the rise in the number of vehicles using our roads these days is starting to attract attention.

If it did not over the past few years, it is probably about time now that someone did focus attention on this growing issue.

In fact it is a frustrating fact of life now for thousands of commuters daily.

At one time in their lives, some commuters could make a 20 minute journey in that time.

Many are now having to bear at least an hour and a half sometimes for the same journey.

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? You can talk about frustration any way you want.

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’ve got a national problem.

Is it of mass proportions? Most definitely yes! Ministry for Defence and National Security manager corporate services Josefa Ratumaitavuki said the block or 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 is concerned with the increasing number of cars on our roads, suggesting the issue has become a national threat. Accessibility, he said, would be difficult in times of an emergency if there was a traffic congestion.

Mr Ratumaitavuki said they met stakeholders to address the issue.

“The Fiji Roads Authority will provide a response in terms of the mitigating factor on the way forward,” he said.

According to the ministry’s 2016 biannual 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 are not the only country though with such high traffic congestion.

If it’s any consolation, in 2016 for instance, Mexico City was tagged the city with the worst traffic congestion in the world.

Drivers spent nearly 97 per cent extra time during the morning hour and 94 per cent extra time during the evening time to arrive at their destinations.

Drivers were recorded having spent almost 219 hours of extra time travelling through traffic each year.

The challenge though is on the powers that be to address this growing concern.

Our challenge is to control our stress levels, and frustration, and arrive on time at our destinations.

Otherwise we will have much more than just a national security concern on our hands if we are not looking after our health.

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