Transport experts from the Canadian consultancy firm, have advised Botswana government to make car ownership and use more expensive, saying rapid increase in the population of cars in the country may worsen traffic congestion, road accidents and pollution.
In the transport master plan, experts from CPCS consultancy firm stated that Botswana has experienced rapid increase in car ownership. “This has been leading to increased air pollution, accidents and congestion. It is recommended that the car ownership be made progressively more expensive to discourage the car ownership growth,” said the experts in the master plan report written to the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
According to the experts, potential intervention to minimize negative impact associated with increases in the population of cars is introduction of mandatory road worthiness test and requirements for insurance for all vehicles, as well as increasing vehicle import duties, saying that could encourage use of a greener transport program. “Personal car use may also need to be made progressively more expensive and alternative transport options should be available so that personal vehicle usage can be reduced; for example, in the form of high-quality bus service and non-motorised transport,” said the experts.
The experts stated that the transport sector is the top polluter of atmosphere as the rapidly increasing vehicle ownership has increased emissions. “In the future, transports impact on the environment needs to be minimized and provision for low emission modes needs to be made. To aid in minimizing transports impact on the environment, a number of strategies will be considered.
These can include promoting the use of small low polluting cars that use alternative fuels, developing low/no polluting modes of transport such as non-motorised transport (biking and cycling), and encouraging ride sharing to reduce the number of trips on the system, and introducing high-quality bus services,” said the experts.
The experts indicated that changes in the climate due to air pollution are already being felt in Botswana and are likely to affect the agricultural sector. “Climate affects the agricultural industry that depends on both a consistent and favourable climate. Climate change may reduce certain crop yields by 20- 30 percent in the next 30 years, and the largest losses are likely to be in developing countries such as Botswana,” said the experts.
They stated that while transport can play a large role in reducing CO2 emissions in Botswana and added that strategies that include “polluter pays” concepts will be considered. “These include strategies such as setting up a transport environmental monitoring unit that prepares air quality management plans, promotes the use of small low-polluting cars, penalizes more heavy oil consuming vehicles, and provide scrapping incentives for old vehicles.”
In the report the experts noted that a range of issues related to Gaborone traffic congestion have been identified. They stated that congestion hinders mobility as the peak hour demand in Gaborone is about 10 times off-peak demand due to all schools and the public sector offices start at the same time in the morning.
“There is a need for measures to reduce congestion, which may not necessarily require transport-related interventions as measures such as staggering the start time of public schools and public offices or adopting flexible work hours could be effective. At the same time, measures to discourage people from driving into the city centre such as parking restraint and measures to encourage the use of mass public transport, such as integration of park and ride with the public transport system can be implemented to reduce vehicles entering the city centre,” said the experts.