5:44pm 08/06/2022
Highways or car parks?
By:Sin Chew Daily

Our car ownership could be among the highest in the world! Imagine when all the cars pour onto our highways during long holidays!

School holidays started last Friday, coupled with the King’s birthday on Monday, the weekend saw almost six million vehicles thronging into our highways.

Some motorists complained on social media that it took them 11 hours to drive from KL to Penang, and nearly eight hours from the capital to JB.

Although driving has been the most efficient way of getting around, especially here in Malaysia, epic traffic jams have made the journeys anything but enjoyable.

Of the three-day, two-night outing, almost an entire day has been spent in the long lines of traffic. Whom to blame for this ordeal? Too few highways? Too many cars? Underdeveloped public transport? Large numbers of sluggish trucks? Or the 30-year-old grandpa of a car breaking down along the road?

Some Penangites have even warned others not to travel there to block the island’s roads for themselves and for the innocent islanders.

The same goes for other popular destinations. Save for the hotels or B&B’s, trying to savor a good bowl of noodle could be a tough mission because every shop is packed with people while parking is scarce.

The only “secret” to skipping the horrendous traffic is to set off several days before or after the long weekends or holidays.

What about taking public transport? Flight, train and bus tickets are hard to come by. So is Grab when you reach your destination.

Building a few more highways? But even this cannot outpace the growth in vehicle number. Implementing astronomical COEs to control the growth in private vehicles like in neighboring Singapore? But it is the last thing on the minds of those in power to irk the public, especially with the election just around the corner.

Cities like Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai and Taipei have good transit services and people can go without private cars.

Not here!

Did you know that we have 33 million registered vehicles, equivalent to the whole population of the country? How not to have traffic jams if each Malaysian has his or her own car?

Transport minister Wee Ka Siong said in a recent interview with Mingguan Malaysia that we have as many registered vehicles as people in this country, and he admitted that our public transport is still not good enough, as some projects are still being carried out, so people prefer to drive instead.

Indeed, the government must prioritize the development of intercity as well as intracity public transport systems.

Now let’s take a look at the vehicle sale numbers. Over the past ten years, we have sold a total of 5.5 million cars, at an average of 550,000 a year, or 1.72 new cars a year for every 100 people.

By comparison, China sold 1.53 cars for every 100 people last year, the US 4.53, Japan 3.53, South Korea 3.30, Germany 3.17 and India 0.22.

It feels like we don’t actually sell enough cars compared to the aforementioned countries, but the thing is, these countries have vehicle scrappage schemes. For example, it’s ten years for Japan and the UK, seven to eight years for Germany, 13 years for the US.

In Malaysia, a ten-year-old car is still semi new, and a 20- or even 30-year-old car can still be spotted running on our roads.

As mentioned earlier, we have 33 million registered cars, at an average of one car per person. Compared to other countries with scrappage schemes, Germany has only 21.1 million registered vehicles (0.254 per person), Japan (37.37 million, 0.297/person), and the US (194 million, 0.589/person).

Our car ownership could be among the highest in the world! Just imagine when all the cars pour onto our highways during long holidays!



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