GUANGZHOU - Guangdong's provincial capital will not restrict vehicle registrations in new measures to curb traffic congestion, a senior provincial official said on Sunday.
"Guangdong will not copy Beijing's practice of limiting vehicle registration, because allowing more residents to own private cars is part of the provincial government's campaign to build a 'happy Guangdong province'," Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua said.
He made the comment when answering questions from members of the Guangdong provincial committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference in Guangzhou at the political advisory body's ongoing session on Sunday.
"Residents may better realize happiness after they have purchased their own cars, and owning a car indicates a person or a family has become rich."
But the provincial government will further reform and overhaul the use of official cars to alleviate the southern metropolis' traffic jams, Huang said.
"An excessive number of official vehicles are on Guangzhou's roads," Huang said.
"Only deputy governors, or Party and government officials above this level, were allowed to use exclusive cars in previous years. But now many officials at the township level, or lower, use exclusive official cars."
Many retired officials still use government cars, too, he added.
Huang said the excessive number of government cars has proven problematic.
The central government has issued a regulation banning retired officials lower than deputy governor from using exclusive government cars, he said. And Guangdong will soon issue a similar document nullifying the privilege for retired deputy governors or lower officials.
Huang said relevant departments will further improve official cars' management.
Xie Cuilan, a white-collar worker in Guangzhou, said the large number of government cars contributed to traffic jams.
"Guangzhou's heavy traffic jams will not ease unless the large number of official cars is reduced," she told China Daily.
"And some drivers of official cars ignore traffic rules."
Guangzhou's transport commission has drawn up a traffic plan to be posted online to collect public opinion.
Drafted regulations state Guangzhou city government will prioritize public transportation in urban areas.
The city government will expand investment in the sector, and will build more subways and light tracks. Guangzhou has eight subway lines in service.
The city's transport commission is studying the possibility of collecting special congestion fees and increasing parking fees.
By the end of last year, Guangzhou had registered more than 2.15 million vehicles, Guangzhou traffic department figures showed.
The traffic department granted more than 300,000 license plates to new car owners in 2010.
The number of private cars in Guangzhou has grown at an annual average of 22.1 percent over the past five years. The figure is 20.9 percent in Beijing and 21.5 percent in Shanghai.
Guangzhou now has more than 90 cars for every 1,000 residents.
Taxi driver Chen Guanqiu said the traffic has affected business.
"Almost all streets are jammed during rush hours," he told China Daily.
(China Daily 01/24/2011 page3)