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AN APPRAISAL OF TRANSPORT SYSTEMS AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT IN THE NIGER DELTA: A CASE STUDY OF ISIOKOLO, DELTA STATE, NIGERIA
Department of Geography and Regional Planning
Delta State University, Abraka
This paper focuses on the relationship between transportation development and the regional development of Isiokolo in Delta State, Nigeria. The fundamental objective of this paper is to assess the role of transportation in the development of Isiokolo. To this end both primary and secondary sources of data were used. For effective study, surrounding settlements such as Oviore, Ek and Abraka were included and a total of one hundred and eighty questionnaires were administered using the random/systematic sampling method. The accessibility matrix of the study area was used and there was also the application of the accessibility indices i.e. Beta, Gamma and Alpha indices. The paper ends by highlighting issues, which should be incorporated in a comprehensive transport system and regional development policy that would lead to the development of the study area.
Keywords: Transport systems: Regional: Development: Niger Delta: Nigeria
Economic development of any society is a complex process, which depends on several interacting forces. Perhaps one of the most important of these forces is the provision of adequate transport infrastructures. This is particularly true in the largely subsistence economy of most African countries where transport constitutes the key to development especially at the early stages of economic advance. Without roads and rails, produce will rot on the trees or in the field for lack of access to markets (Filani, 1977; Atubi and Onokala, 2003).
The interaction between the level and pattern of transport resources and the standard of living of the population of any country is a critical factor affecting economic and social progress. Thus in most African countries today, there is widespread concern for transport planning in the desire to promote rapid economic development. This is reflected in the various National Development Plans of the different West African countries in which the transport sector consumes a significant proportion of the capital investment, ranging between 20 and 40 percent of all public sector investment (Ogundana, 1971; Atubi and Onokala, 2004).
In the Niger Delta where a greater percentage of the local population resides in the rural areas the few urban centres enjoy comparatively better transport facilities than the larger rural environment. It has been observed that many rural settlements in the Niger-Delta are not directly located on motorable roads and where they are located on roads, many do not particularly enjoy Locational advantage because the roads which serve them are liable to flooding during the rainy season. Economic and social activities are disrupted during these months in the rural areas and this has particular effect on the rural market system which may become redundant as a result of inaccessibility (Aloba, 1978).
Furthermore, accessibility is an important part in the siting of administrative headquarters particularly in the rural areas (Adejuyigbe, 1978). It also determines the location of socio-economic amenities which are provided for a group of villages whose combined population is large enough to enjoy such facilities. Lack of easy accessibility to such common rural amenities may lead to inter-community conflicts and a more dispersed rural interaction.
The provision of transport facilities is therefore, an important factor in political interaction, co-operative and social interaction both at the micro and the macro level of the regional economies (Ogundana, 1974).
The need for transport during the colonial era was so apparent that Luggard (1922) remarked that the material need of Africa can be summed up in one word “transport”.
Filani (1978) has similarly observed that the socio-economic development of any society depends on a large extent to the nature and structure of transportation network of the society. He also argued that transportation provides the arteries through which the economic life-stream of society flows-the people, information, raw materials and finished products which help to build and maintain the society.
Similarly, Stuckey (1973) wrote that transport facilitated economic advancement and transport improvement was indeed part of the economic advancement. A certain percentage of the economic activities arose directly because of new transport possibilities but for the most part, new transport facilities enabled the expansion of local activity and the integration of previously isolated market.
However, no society can exist above the subsistence level without a measure of improvement in its transport system. According to Aloba (1985) and Atubi and Onokala (2003), areas with under-developed transport infrastructures are more disadvantaged than areas with an improved transport system.
Oguntoyinbo and Areola (1978) argued that the extent of economic and social development in the rural areas is impeded by the absence of good road transportation in some parts of Nigeria. To this extent, the overall pace of national economic and social development has been retarded by the present system of inequitable allocation of road transport investment between the rural and urban sectors.
One of the critical issues in the provision of transport facilities in any urban area is the issue of accessibility of the services of such transport facilities to a greater majority of the urban residents. The heart of transportation planning in any part of the world is concerned with the design of circulation systems, which maximize accessibility for essential movements between linked activities (Onokala, 1995). Accessibility is a term often used in transport and land use planning and is generally understood to mean approximately ”ease of reaching”. Accessibility is the ability to get from one place to another, the connectivity of a place with other places. Accessibility also implies the opportunity that an individual or type of person at a given location possess to take part in a particular activity or set of activities (Jones, 1981); as a function of point’s location in space to other points in any given system (Hack, 1976) and as inherent characteristics of advantage of a place with respect to overcoming some spatially operating source of friction of, for example, time and/or distance (Igram, 1971).
Stanley (1971) examines how the capacity and connectivity of a road network is an important factor in the national and regional development. He therefore, said that one of the important priorities of transport policy in developing countries should be the improvement of the rural road system with a view to linking the rural hinterlands with the urban areas which constitute growth poles or growth centres.
Similarly, Taaffe, et al (1963) attempts to analyze the relationship between transportation and development. Their study showed that in the early stages of economic growth the introduction of modern transport makes a wide variety of new economic opportunities available and is therefore likely to promote economic growth.
The transport sector of the World Bank plans an important part in reducing poverty by strengthening focus on accessibility environments and inclusive transport systems. A guide to assist countries in the development and strengthening of poverty reduction strategies. World Bank (2002) stresses the importance of good guidelines for policy and planning decisions to increase and maintain accessible environments for all people including different disability groups. In the latest review of urban Transport Strategy, World Bank (2001); Venter et al (2003) and Maunder et al (2004) recognize the need to address more systematically access issues, especially for those who are mobility impaired.
Research Methodology/Materials Collected
The information for this research work was gathered through both primary and secondary source of data. The primary source was gathered through the use of personal observation, oral interview and the use of questionnaires. One hundred and eighty (180) questionnaires were distributed at Isiokolo, Oviore, Eku and Abraka. Personal observation was used in the collection of data floe of traffic (cars, motorcycles, bicycles) from Oviore to Isiokolo, Oviore to Eku and Ughelli to Isiokolo in order to know the most effective route.
The secondary source of data was gathered through the use of published materials such as textbooks, journals, government documents and internet. In analyzing the data from personal observation, a route matrix was drawn to show the most accessible route to Isiokolo additionally, the Gamma, Beta, and Alpha indices were used in measuring the level of accessibility in the study area.
Ethiope East Local Government Area is bounded by Ndokwa West Local Government Area in the north-east, Ughelli North Local Government Area on the west and by the River Ethiope in the north (see fig. 1). Isiokolo on the other hand is located on the southern extreme of the local government area. It is bounded in the north-east by Kokori, in the north-west by Okpara inland and in the south by Uruakpo (see fig. 2). The main occupation of the people is farming. The study area falls under the subequatorial south climatic region of Nigeria. This climatic zone extends from the coast to roughly 80 – 100 miles inland and has over 60 inches of rainfall per annum. The region falls under the tropical equatorial rainforest zone characterized by dense forest with evergreen broad leafed trees of luxuriant growth, layered arrangement with varying species of trees and little undergrowth.
Findings/Discussion of Results
From table 1 below, of the 180 sampled, 126 agreed that there is a regular flow of transportation in Isiokolo and this account for 70% of the sample of population as compared to 54 persons who disagree and who accounted for 30% of the population. We can thus say that there is regular flow of transportation in the study area (see table 1).
Table 1: Regular Flow of Transportation in Isiokolo
Source: Field survey, 2005
On the types of roads in the study area, we can see that there is both tarred and untarred roads in Isiokolo as can be seen from the 120 respondents which accounts for 66.7 of the sampled population. On the other hand, we observed that there are more tarred roads (32.2%) in the study area than untarred roads (1.1%) (see table 2).
Table 2: Types of Road in Isiokolo
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Source: Field survey, 2005
The maintenance of roads in Isiokolo and other parts of the local government area is been done by both the state and local government (see table 3). There has also been meager maintenance by individuals, which accounts for 2.8% of the respondents.
Table 3: Maintenance of Roads in Isiokolo and Environs
Source: Field survey, 2005
Of the 180 people sampled, 148 agreed that there has been development in transportation within the study area as well as from Isiokolo to other parts of the local government area and this accounts for 82.2% of the sampled population. On the other hand 32 respondents disagreed and this account for 17.8% of the sampled population. We thus say that there has been significant improvement in transport network development from Isiokolo to other parts of the local government area in recent time (see table 4).
Table 4: Level of Transport Development
Source: Field survey, 2005
Table 5 shows ways through which there has been improvement in transportation in Isiokolo as well as the surrounding settlements. From the table we observe that of all the ways of improvement, tarring of roads is the major way of transport improvement as seen from the 97 respondents by the provision of more motorcycles (see table 5).
Table 5: Ways of Improvement in Transportation
Source: Field survey, 2005
Appendix A shows the accessibility matrix of fifteen (15) important towns in Ethiope East Local Government Area. Of these towns, nodes 4 and 8 are the most accessible town in the local government area. Node 12 which is the study area is also accessible but less when compared to node 4 and 8 (fig. 3). The beta index is designed so that any network with a beta index of less than 1.00 will be composed largely of branches while a ratio of exactly 1.00 indicates the presence of more than one circuit. From Appendix A, the computation shows a beta index of 1, this indicates that the road network in Ethiope East Local Government Area is that of a complete circuit which links all the important towns in the local government area.
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In the case of the Gamma index the connectivity index lies between 0.00 and 1.00. The computation in Appendix A indicates a gamma index of 0.39. This indicates that although the important towns are
connected, a complete interconnection is yet to be achieved. Appendix A indicates an alpha index of 0.75. This further shows that connectivity of the network is tending towards that of complete graph.
Transportation is a very important factor for effective administration. From the accessibility matrix as well as the Alpha, Beta and Gamma indices in Appendix A, we see that although the Ethiope East Local Government Area is well connected, for effective administration, there is need for complete interconnection.
Accessibility Matrix of important Towns in Ethiope East Local Government Area.
As a follow-up to the findings of this research, the following recommendations are made so as to mitigate the ranging regional development problems resulting from the variations of transport systems and regional development in Isiokolo, Ethiope East Local Government Area.
The first set of observation of low connectivity of road transport network, inaccessibility and less accessibility of some major centres to the network imply that some area are completely deprived of the access to essential services in the study area by road transport network, while some areas are not adequately covered by road transport network especially in the peripheral areas of Ethiope East Local Government Area. A number of strategies are needed to remedy the situation. We suggest that efforts should be geared up by the Federal, State and Local Government Authorities to improve the road surface of existing links and also to construct new link roads in some areas especially in those newly planned developing layout in the study area. This will enhance the accessibility of the area to social services through road transport network.
The construction of roads should not be restricted only to Isiokolo but other parts of the local government area should also be considered. Similarly, poor roads in the local government area should be attended to so as to increase inter-community development and also to flow agricultural produce from the rural to the urban centres.
However, it is the considered opinions of these researchers that is the rural-urban accessibility situation of the study area is improved upon, the following potential benefits shall accrue to Isiokolo area and Ethiope East Local Government Area at large apart from the development of the area. These are that it would further open up the rural area for further economic integration, promote the improvement and modernization of agricultural activities, make exchange of agricultural products easier, facilitate the dispersal of economic activities, making the diffusion of growth inducing processes easier, promote the social and political cohesion among the people, as well as facilitate the execution of various beneficial political and administrative programmes and projects. Furthermore, it could help the rural dwellers to diversify their income earning pursuits, decongest the urban centres as well as assist in the development of tourism and in the provision of essential social services.
Transportation is neither a result nor a prerequisite for economic development. Although, transportation is important in the development process of any society, it alone does not lead to development. Rather, there has to be an integration of other forces to bring about development. It is hoped that with the construction of the roads in Isiokolo as well as other factors, development would be attracted to the study area.
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No. of arcs = 15
No. of nodes = 15