Sunday, September 27, 2020

Too many vehicles into Botswana while roads remain in poor conditions

The national vehicle stock has doubled over a period spanning a decade, and shows no signs of retreating. This is despite concerns about the pressure exerted on roads and the traffic congestion.

According to the recently released figures contained on the Statistics Botswana’s 2017 Transport and Infrastructure report, the national vehicle stock grew at an annual rate of 9.7 percent from 2008 to 2017. The annual stock of vehicles comprises of government owned motor vehicles and privately owned motor vehicles. In the previous year alone, the number of licensed vehicles in Botswana increased by 5.5 percent, bringing the total number of registered cars to 527,901. The increase in new registrations is a result of import cars from Asia and the United Kingdom which are proving to be more affordable to the low income market.

Data from 2017 also reveal that total privately owned vehicles went up from 487,523 in 2016, to 515,370 in 2017, which was an increase of 5.7 percent. This increase can be attributed to the growth in trucks (62.4 percent) and passenger cars which went up by 8.3 percent. Passenger cars accounted for 76.8 percent of vehicles registered for the first time last year, followed by vans with 6.9 percent.

Passenger cars and vans made up 63.2 and 20.0 percent of the total of privately owned vehicles. Three categories of vehicles experienced a decrease with the most notable decline coming from buses which went down by 79.2 percent. Buses were followed by motor cycles which went down by 22.8 percent while vans declined by 0.9 percent.

There were three categories of first registered vehicles, namely used, brand new and rebuilt. The bulk of the vehicles registered for the first time in 2017 were used vehicles (83.9 percent), these were followed by brand new vehicles with 15.9 percent while rebuilt vehicles constituted only 0.2 percent. Most of the used vehicles registered for the first time came from Japan (86.8 percent). Countries that followed Japan were Singapore and South Africa with 5.0 and 3.9 percent respectively. As for brand new vehicles most of them came from South Africa (82.5 percent). Botswana came second with 8.7 percent.

“The growth in the national vehicle stock is attributable to privately owned vehicles which constitute 97.6 percent of the total vehicle population. The increase on vehicle stock has brought with it some major challenges, for example, an increase in road accidents as and congestion on the roads especially in cities,” Dr. Burton Mguni, the Statistician General, said.

“This growth is also likely to negatively impact on the durability or life span of our national roads, particularly in the more populated areas such as the eastern part of Botswana,” he added.

The Statistician General went on to note that there were 227.6 vehicles per 1,000 population, an increase of 3.3 percent from 220.3 vehicles from prior year.

“As the private vehicle population continues to grow, it negatively affects public transport. This means strategies should be put in place to make public transport more attractive, e.g. by creating lanes solely dedicated for public transport.”

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.