Assessing Spatial Variations of Traffic Congestion Using Traffic Index Data in a Developing City: Lessons from Johannesburg, South Africa

Thembani Moyo, Siphiwe Mbatha, Oluwayemi Oniya Aderibigbe, Trynos Gumbo, Innocent Musonda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The COVID-19 pandemic has created unforeseen effects in public transport and the mobility of people in cities globally. Johannesburg, being a developing city in one of the most affected countries in Africa during the pandemic, has experienced severe changes in traffic management and travel patterns as a result of the restrictions imposed on movement. Hence, this study examined the spatial variations in traffic during the pandemic. The study utilized data obtained from the TomTom Traffic Index for the city of Johannesburg from 2019 to 2021, with 2019 representing the period pre-COVID-19 with no lockdown restrictions, 2020 representing the period with restricted movement to limit spread of COVID-19, and 2021 representing a period of relaxed and minimized restrictions on movement. Our findings revealed that there was a variation in congestion levels between 2019–2021 with year 2020 having the least congestion from the beginning of the COVID-19 restrictions due to regulations enforced in movement and reduced travel. Our findings further revealed that traffic congestion was higher during weekdays than weekends during the three periods, with mini-bus taxis as the major contributors to congestion. Consequently, there is a need to discourage the use of single occupancy vehicles and invest in more sustainable means of transportation to ease the mobility of people and reduce traffic on major roads.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8809
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022


  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • city of Johannesburg
  • congestion
  • traffic index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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