Malaysia lost 1.1 – 2.2% of GDP to traffic jams.
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Every Malaysian knows just how much of a waste of time a traffic jam is, but it turns out that all that time sitting in the daily bumper-to-bumper traffic is really expensive – as in RM20 BILLION!
That’s right, the World Bank estimates that Klang Valley residents spend more than 250 million hours a year stuck in traffic, which translates to costing 1.1 – 2.2% of Malaysia’s 2014 Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
In other words, that’s RM10 million – RM20 billion every year!
The losses come from three different areas:
- Fuel wastage – approximately RM 1-2.4 billion worth of petrol has been used nationwide because of congestion.
- Environment and safety – effects of additional carbon emissions and other pollutants from traffic congestion cost RM 1–2.7 billion
- Monetary value of a person’s time – RM 10.8 – RM 19.6 billion
The World Bank’s Malaysia Economic Monitor, June 2015 – Transforming Urban Transport also points out that only 17% of commuters in Kuala Lumpur use public transport compared to 62% in Singapore and 89% in Hong Kong.
The reason for all this horrible jam?
Well, there’s three:
- urban sprawl
- high motorization rates
- inadequate public transport
The report also points to a lack of unified planning as a key obstacle to the delivery of efficient urban transport.
Current planning and delivery practices for urban transport are still not sufficiently robust to handle the underlying complexity of Malaysia’s cities as they are scattered across a number of different entities.Malaysia Economic Monitor, June 2015 – Transforming Urban Transport, The World Bank.
And the problem is only getting worse
Economics expert Professor Nik Hashim Nik Mustapha states in the Journal of Traffic and Transportation Engineering that commuting traffic in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley in general, are worsening every day despite efforts on speed-up fast lanes at the highway tolls.
In the paper, he said this is fuelled by the increasing urban population, higher per capita income and availability of credit for automobile purchases enable people to own cars.
In KL, there are an estimated two cars for each resident and even among the poorest 10% of households, about half owned a car as of 2012.
Traffic jams are actually keeping Malaysians poor
A 2018 World Bank article revealed the surprising correlation between Malaysia’s traffic congestions and socio-economic standing.
One important factor that can potentially contribute to improving socio-economic standing is access to transportation.Improving urban transportation for upward social mobility in Malaysia, The World Bank.
The article highlights that without reliable transportation, low-income urban households are at a disadvantage in accessing a wider range of opportunities – and this could potentially hinder them from moving up the socio-economic ladder.
So it looks like Malaysia is not only paying a heavy price for its traffic jams right now, but it’s also costing Malaysians their future.
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