Traffic congestion and its effect on productivity in urban Tanzania

18May 2016
Muharram Macatta
The Guardian
Traffic congestion and its effect on productivity in urban Tanzania

IMPROVING the social and economic wellbeing of the citizenry is the aim of every nation. The long-term goal of government is to raise the standard of living of all indigenous Tanzanians to a level consistent with that of middle income economy.

A good-established transportation system is not only means to national growth but also serves as catalyst for economic development of a country.

One basic economic and social necessity that comes into focus when discussing economic and social development is transportation. Transportation is an activity of life processes and seeks to provide access to various activities that satisfy mobility needs of humankind.

An effective transportation system is significantly important in sustaining economic growth in contemporary economies since it provides linkages between different parts of the country and the global world.

It links to work, deliver products to market, underpins logistics and supply chain, and support local and international trade. A good-established transportation system is not only means to national growth but also serves as catalyst for economic development of a country.

Thus, there is a relationship between transportation and productivity Whereas traffic congestion disrupts business activities and reduces productivity level, research has shown that it may also be a symbol of growth in an economy.

As the economy grows and real income of household increases, vehicle population surges up, contributing to traffic congestion, particularly within cities.

Given the critical importance of productivity on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, it is economically worthwhile, and of policy importance to recognize the deleterious effect of traffic congestion on productivity. This study attempts to assess the extent to which congestion affects worker productivity.

The study focuses on the transportation system in Dar es Salaam Metropolis. The results from the analysis indicated that mobility in Dar es Salaam Metropolis is restricted due to congestion, causing excessive travel delays, particularly, during peak hours and negatively affecting productivity.

Therefore, expanding transport infrastructure as well as improvement in the traffic management and control system should be given attention to improve the transportation system in the metropolis. This would enhance worker productivity and ultimately increase GDP.

Economic and social activities of human kind revolve around transportation. It is a link to almost all sectors of an economy. Virtually everything we do relies on transportation.

Trade within and between different regions is vital to economic development and directly depends on transportation. Thus the importance of transportation to societal growth cannot be underestimated.

We continue to state herein that increasing wealth and high population, and availability of vehicle loan facility result in more car ownership than current transportation network can handle.

It could be inferred from the above statement that there is a relationship between income level and car ownership and that the dominance of private car usage, particularly within cities, is likely to increase even further as a result of rise in household income with its attendant traffic congestion and high consumption of fuel.

Again in Dar es Salaam, cars and taxis dominate the transportation system within the Metropolis. The Ilala, Temeke or Kinondoni Business Districts, are characterized by too many cars and taxis.

Cars and taxis form about 77% of the traffic mix yet account for less than 30% of all person trips (Urban Roads). This situation has contributed to excessive traffic congestion within the Metropolis, especially at the 3 districts and thus affects the logistics system and business activities in the metropolis.

The aim of this critique is to examine the traffic congestion situation in the Dar es Salaam metropolis and how it affects worker productivity. Business activities depend on urban transportation systems to ensure the mobility of its customers, employees and suppliers.

The urban transport services cover a range of important social and economic services such as leisure trips business journeys; commuting; shopping; trips to places of education/religion and freight distribution. Effective urban transport fulfills the demand for accessibility within cities.

Furthermore transportation infrastructure is one of the key factors that directly affect urban transportation effectiveness and capacity within the metropolis.

Transportation infrastructure mainly includes marine, rail, roads, parking lots, vehicles and transportation terminals. Urban traffic management system is also an important component which can properly control and guide the distribution of traffic flows on roads.

Cities adequate transport network, traffic management and control system and effective, efficient and reliable mass transit as key factors that affect urban transportation system.

We also postulate that investment in adequate transport infrastructure improves transport efficiency in terms of increased productivity and that transportation infrastructure involves good road network, adequate bus stops, parking areas with traffic signals.

We should as well assert that mass transit is prerequisite for ensuring efficient and effective transportation system in urban areas in terms of energy conservation reduced traffic congestion and environmental preservation.

We may further argue that effective mass transit system is underpinned by availability, accessibility, and reliability of buses.

Effective traffic management and control system is solution to ensuring effective transportation system in the urban areas. This involves management and control of road signals, road space, and parking space and road users’ pavements.

Economic growth and business competitiveness is underpinned by productivity growth and so we argue that the input of productivity is a state or national investment in transportation whilst the output is gross domestic product (GDP) growth.

An effective transportation system is therefore key in sustaining economic growth in the contemporary economies by its capacity to link peopl to job, deliver products to markets where there is demand, drives supply chain and logistics and enabling domestic and international trade.

Travel reliability is critical to some business sectors, especially those that deal with perishable goods as well as those that rely on just-in-time deliveries. That is, to some businesses, productivity growth is underpinned by what they termed as predictable and time-critical deliveries.

This view is further shared by the majority businessmen and women when they state that effective transportation system increases productivity in terms of job creation, reduction in business operation cost, improved output, expanded market and increase in economic competitiveness.

They continue to suggest that effective transportation system contributes to productivity by improving business ability to provide goods and services, improving people’s ability to access education and health services, create employment and reduce vehicle operation cost as well as emission and safety benefits.

Thus effective transportation system improves productivity which is a key determinant of economic growth and living standards.

Any city that is economically dynamic and vibrant will rarely be free from traffic congestion. Congestion has become an inevitable part of everyday life and that it is the city authorities that have to devise policies to help manage congestion on affordable basis to relief commuters of the difficulties imposed upon them by traffic congestion.