Seoul – Road congestion and delays in freight cargo pose a major threat to the growth of developing countries, according to the International Association of Public Transport.

The association, whose members comprise public transport authorities and operators, was addressing a delegation from the Gauteng department of transport, visiting Japan and Korea to assess those countries’ public transport systems.

The economic hubs of Japan and Korea are facing similar traffic congestion problems to those experienced in Johannesburg.

Gauteng transport spokesperson Alfred Nhlapo said the department was looking into commissioning a study to assess the economic impact of traffic congestion.

“The city is an economic engine of the country and the region, therefore it is important that we find ways to effectively deal with the increasing problem of congestion on our roads,” said Nhlapo.

The association said Johannesburg had 261.8 road deaths per 1 million people, ahead of Rio de Janeiro and Kuala Lumpur.

Jong Woo, deputy director of Seoul City transportation planning, said the country had embarked on a major overhaul of the public transport system before hosting the Fifa World Cup in 2002.

“The transport reform process resulted in the increased use of public transport and a remarkable decline in road accidents by 40 percent,” said Woo.

Seoul is using transport models similar to those envisaged by the Gauteng department, such as the integrated ticketing system, where commuters use a single ticket to connect to other transport modes.

The city has also implemented a Bus Rapid Transport system, which involves the use of bus-dedicated lanes and established rail networks.

The system has reduced levels of congestion by 20 percent for the city’s 10.35 million population.