Not just wasted time: Cairo traffic is costing Egypt a significant percentage of its GDP
Cairo's notorious traffic costs Egypt LE47 billion ($6.5 billion) every year, or 2.5 percent of its current GDP, according to a recently released World Bank study.
The study covers the Greater Cairo Metropolitan Area (GCMA), home to 19.6 million inhabitants, which includes parts of Giza and Qalioubiya, as well as the new cities of New Cairo, 6 October, 15 May, 10 Ramadan, El-Obour, and Badr city.
The cost of Cairo traffic is expected to more than double to LE105 billion ($14.6 billion) by 2030, and includes the value of wasted time (50 percent), delay costs (31 percent) and health costs (19 percent).
The relative cost of Cairo traffic to Egypt’s GDP is high compared to the cost of New York traffic, which represents a negligible 0.07 percent of the United States’ GDP, and Jakarta, where traffic causes the loss of 0.6 percent of Indonesia’s GDP.
“Poor traffic management” is the primary cause of congestion according to the study, which cites “limited parking capacity, few traffic signals, random stops by cars and minivans, no proper pedestrian crossings and U-turns.”
The prevalence of passenger cars -- 55 percent of Cairo vehicles according to the survey -- is also to blame for the traffic. The report cites the relative ease of owning and operating a private car in the city.
“There are no on-street parking charges, no tolls on most major corridors, and gasoline and diesel are heavily subsidised in Egypt (up to 50%),” adds the report. There are also “no incentives for people to rationalise their travel or carpool,” it states.
At peak times, Cairo’s 6 October bridge and ring road at Carrefour supermarket in Maadi witness 7,000 vehicles per hour per lane per direction, says the study.
But Cairo’s problem is that “traffic conditions are congested for most of the day,” rather than just during rush-hours.
Cairo is also under-supplied with public transport, compared to similar large cities around the world.
The Egyptian capital has only 4km of metro line per million inhabitants, compared to 166km in London and 12km in Mexico City, and only 231 full-sized buses per million inhabitants, compared to 753 in London and 362 in Mexico City.
The report recommends authorities start with “corridor management schemes” such as traffic lights and regulated on-street parking, designating one agency to take charge of traffic rather than several as is currently the case, introducing traffic-related charges such as on-street parking fees, gradually removing the fuel subsidies and re-investing savings into improving public transportation, and reviewing the prices of public transport to improve service.
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