Estimated 8 mln cars on the roads

Iraq’s soaring vehicle count straining infrastructure and the environment, rights group warns

BAGHDAD — Iraq’s infrastructure is buckling under the weight of a rapidly growing car population, according to the Strategic Center for Human Rights. The national advocacy group said Thursday it was urging authorities to halt car imports as the number of vehicles in the country had reached eight million, placing significant strain on roads and bridges.

The center’s president, Dr. Fadil Al-Gharawi, cited data from the Ministry of Planning and the Directorate of Public Traffic, indicating a steady rise in car density. In 2022, there was roughly one car for every 5.42 people; that number has risen to one car per 5.55 in 2024.

“The surge in vehicles not only strains our roads and bridges, but also has a profound environmental impact,” Al-Gharawi said in a statement. “Increased carbon emissions and a rise in traffic accidents causing fatalities and severe congestion are major concerns.”

The center is urging the government to take immediate action. They propose a five-year freeze on car imports to slow the growth and allow infrastructure to catch up. Additionally, they advocate for investment in major transportation projects, such as ring roads and international highways, to improve traffic flow.

Al-Gharawi also emphasized the need for promoting eco-friendly vehicles as a long-term solution to address both environmental and infrastructural challenges.