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Nairobi among 10 monster traffic jams around the world

By - BBC | October 1st 2012

The story of traffic problems in Brazil's biggest city, Sao Paulo, which suffers jams of up to 180km at some points in the week, brought a worldwide response from BBC readers.

Here are 10 of their gridlock stories

Dhaka, Bangladesh

Dhaka is arguably the most densely populated city in the world.

A 15km ride in an auto-rickshaw can take two to three hours in heavy traffic, during which one often has to contend with dust, exhaust fumes, extreme heat and noise pollution. Traffic laws aren't usually enforced and vehicles move in a terrifying dance routine.

Austin, Texas, US

On any given day, one can sit in his car in traffic with the air conditioning whipping his hair around and the radio blasting.

Seoul, South Korea

Seoul drivers are notorious for ignoring any traffic rules, especially red lights, and will drive across intersections over red lights. This is called "biting tails" in Korean and means you end up with a few cars blocking the intersection when you get a green light - so you're stuck.

This happens at every crossroad - and there are lots of crossroads - hence the fantastic 2mph experience.

Then on the weekends you battle your way out of town at a snail's pace of about 15-20mph, and of course trying to get back into Seoul on a Sunday afternoon can take four hours for what should be only a 40-minute drive. You end up frustrated and drained.

Lexington, Kentucky, US

Lexington calls itself the Horse Capital of the World and it shows.

The outer ring road clogs every morning and evening, especially because no trees were ever planted to keep the sun from shining directly in motorists' faces at the busiest exchange, a 100-metre free-for-all where merging traffic competes with exiting traffic for the chance to smash each other to bits.

All this in the home of the largest indoor basketball arena, where games are scheduled sometimes for immediately after rush hour, and you have a level of anarchy that only a rural city in America could create.

Driving one morning takes one an hour to get to work. The drive without congestion is 15 minutes.

Kampala, Uganda

Traffic jams are experienced every morning and evening and especially when it rains.

This is due to very bad road conditions, coupled with poor drainage systems.

The whole place is usually thrown into a total mess even though the stretches of the jams are not that long.

Motorists spend hours trying to manoeuvre through these terrible roads.

Mumbai, India

Sao Paulo drivers are lucky - 180km of traffic jams in Sao Paulo would be super-jammed into 5km in India. Add to that the cows, ponies and beggars that surround your car, and that is just the beginning.

Indians seem to think the car in front of them runs on their horn, not petrol - so blast away, even if the poor driver in front is only crawling as fast as the hundred cars in front of him.

Jakarta, Indonesia

One’s life is planned around the traffic jams which often continue through the day. Travelling even short distances can take hours and some parts of the city are in a constant state of jam.

Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok's traffic problem has been getting worse since the government introduced a policy to refund tax for first-time car buyers.

Coupled with the Thai aspiration to own a car and get some status, this policy has resulted in five million vehicles in a city which can only cope with less than two million cars.


The worst thing that the British colonialists left Kenyans with were the roundabouts.

These are the main source of traffic problems in Nairobi since the place to which you are headed may be very clear, but because the cars already in the roundabout have the right of way you are forced to wait.

Unpredictable traffic is the way of life here. Even if a place is only a kilometre away, you are safer leaving your house an hour ahead of time or even just walking. But laziness and pride makes walking to be frowned upon. The worst traffic jams are every Friday - when it rains even a little, you can even sleep in the road.

Manila, Philippines

If your registration plate number ends in the numeral one or two, then you're not allowed to use your car on a Monday. If your plate number ends in three or four, you can't drive on Tuesday, and so on.

However, during weekends, the scheme is suspended, allowing everybody to use the road, and that's when you're back to reality.

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