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TRANSPORT AND RURAL DEVELOPMENT IN ONNA LOCAL GOVERNMENT AREA: ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL IMPLICATIONS
1.1 Background of the Study
Man, nations, regions and the world would be severely limited in development without transportation, which is a key factor for physical and economic growth (Oyesiku, 2002). Transport, no doubt, is a live wire of any society; this is a result of its crucial roles in socio-economic and political activities of a nation. For instance, transport of any mode has enhanced spatial interaction, induced location changes and integrated various regional spaces. Suffice it to stress that, transportation is the process by which people, goods and services move from one place to another. Transportation is indispensable to modern economic development especially in a developing country like Nigeria. In support of this, Wane (2001), pointed out that transportation is a crucial vector for urban insertion since it gives access to economic activity; facilitate family life, and helps in spinning social networks.
Road transportation is the mode that has expanded the most over the last 50 years, both for passengers and freight transportation. Roads have a functional hierarchy depending on the role they play in the network. At the top of the hierarchy are freeways (highways), which are limited access roads with no intersections. There are also arterials that are roads that have traffic signals at intersection, forcing vehicles to stop. These arterials are fed by collectors and local roads, which have the main purpose to connect specific activities (residences, retail stores, industries). Put together, this network enables point to point services, a notable advantage the road transport has over other transport modes.
Road transport, however, possesses significant advantages over other modes: The capital cost of vehicles is relatively small, which makes it comparatively easy for new users to gain entry. This helps ensure that the trucking industry, for example, is highly competitive. Low capital costs also ensure that innovations and new technologies can diffuse quickly through the industry. Another advantage of road transport is the high relative speed of vehicles, the major constraint being government-imposed speed limits.
One of its most important attributes is the flexibility of route choice , once a network of roads is provided. Road transport has the unique opportunity of providing door to door service for both passengers and freight. These multiple advantages have made cars, buses and trucks the modes of choice for a large number of trip purposes, and have led to their market dominance for short distance trips. The success of cars and trucks has given rise to a number of serious problems such as a significant growth of fuel consumption, increasing environmental externalities, traffic congestion and a safety (accidents) have also emerged.
Road infrastructure is a large consumer of space with the lowest level of physical constraints among transportation modes. However, physiographical constraints are significant in road construction with substantial additional costs to overcome features such as rivers or rugged terrain. While historically road transportation was developed to support non-motorized forms of transportation (walking, domestication of animals and cycling at the end of the 19th century), it is motorization that has shaped the most its development since the beginning of the 20th century. Road transportation has an average operational flexibility as vehicles can serve several purposes but are rarely able to move outside roads. Road transport systems have high maintenance costs, both for the vehicles and infrastructure. They are mainly linked to light industries where rapid movements of freight in small batches are the norm. Yet, with containerization, road transportation has become a crucial link in freight distribution.
The road transport sector is a significant contributor to a wide range of environmental and social problems. Road transport gives rise to various forms of air, water and land pollution, noise pollution, contributes to global warming and causes accidents as well as congestion (UNEP 2000). In addition to causing direct mortality, roads can have a number of indirect impacts such as habitat fragmentation. This can result from either animals not being able to cross the road without being killed or through avoidance of the road. While improvisation of roads is a serious topic of research, road transport of the future includes aspects like solar panel roads and cars where solar cells have replaced asphalt or tar, and there are vehicles with electric motors reducing emission. Road transport of the future aims to work on these negativities and turn them around.
Generally, rural areas server as the base for the production of food and fiber, the major sources of capital formation for a country, and a principal market for domestic manufactures (Olayiwola and Adeleye, 2005). For instance, most of the rural roads are in poor condition, and this has imposed significant cost on the national economy especially to the agricultural activities due to increased vehicle operating costs and travel times (Akintola, 2007). The Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) has embarked on various programs at one time or the other to ensure the provision of adequate transport facilities to meet the needs of the rural population but these programs have not been able to achieve hundred percent successes. The importance of transport facilities in rural areas can be justified from both social and economic perspectives. Socially, a significant proportion of Nigeria population lives in the rural areas and demands various forms of transport to facilitate socio-political interactions. Secondly, the rural areas are indispensable in the supply of food, raw materials to urban centers and the country’s economic growth as a whole. In light of the above, it becomes expedient to examine rural transportation problems, so that the extent of the problems can be known, and possible solution proffered to achieving sustainable rural development.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The major constraint with developing and maintaining rural roads is the fact that they are unfortunately rural, and often difficult to access. In Onna Local Government area most roads are unpaved, and some are graveled. Keeping these roads in a condition that provides all weather access is becoming increasingly difficult since transport is the pivot on which economic growth in any country revolves.
The role of transportation in rural development had been a major challenges of human health, socio-economic aspect of the rural areas. It also affect the production of goods and services in the rural areas, movement of people resulting as a result of lack of good road in the rural areas cannot be overemphasized as it cause poor production of agricultural products.
1.3 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The aim of this study is to investigate the relationship between road transportation and rural development in Onna Local Government Area. However, the specific objectives of the study are to:
1. To examine the socioeconomic impact of road transport on rural development in the study area.
2. To assess the challenges of road transport development in Onna LGA.
1.4 Research Questions
1. What are the socioeconomic implications of road transportation to rural development?
2. What are the challenges of road transport development?
1.5 Research Hypothesis
Ho: Rural development is independent of socioeconomic impact of road transport.
Hi: It is.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This research focuses on rural development of Onna Local Government Area, evaluating the social, economic and environmental implications of road transport.
1.7 Significance of the Study
This research is exemplified to contributing it quota as regards the remedying of societal problems especially when it has to do with issues of road transportation as it concerns rural socioeconomic development, poverty reduction, pollution, and environmental sustainability.
1.8 Study Area
1.8.1 Historical Background
The ONNA Local Government Area was created out of the larger Eket Local Government Area in 1989 by the Military Administration of President Rtd. Gen. Ibrahim BadamosiBabangida. The word ‘ONNA’ is an (acronym) abbreviation of the three clans which make up the area, namely: Oniong Clan, NungNdem Clan and Awa Clan.
The three clans had their political affinity from when they were feudal kingdoms of their own but remained together on the advent of the British Colonisation which respected their affinity and integrated them into one administrative political unit of Nigeria known as Ibibio (Awa) in the Old Calabar Province with the following boundaries:
(a) Iman Clan in the north
(b) Qua Iboe River in the east
(c) Atlantic Ocean in the south and
(d) Kwa Clans of Offiong and Esene (alias Ukpum and Ikpa Clans) in the west.
The ONNA Local Government Area is part of the base of Nigeria known as the Niger Delta. It situates between East Longitudes 7o48’ and 7o59’ and between North Latitude 4o10’ and 4o43’ it locates on the western bank of one of the nineteen rivers of the Niger Delta known as Qua Iboe river meandering north-south – west into the Atlantic Ocean at longitude 7o59’ East in the Bight of Bonny.
The whole area lies within the Niger Delta, which is only 500ft or 152m above sea level. The whole territory of ONNA is thus water shed with many swamps and streams flowing north into the Awa Creek which divides the area into the northern part (being Awa Clan) and the southern part (being NungNdem Clan in the middle) and Oniong Clan in the South embracing the wasteland.
As can be noted, ONNA is 4o32 north of the Equator and therefore lies wholly in the northern tropics where it is subjected to two principal climatic conditions. The first is the long rainy season while the second is the short dry season. The rainy season begins from April and lasts through May, June, July, August and September. The dry season starts from October, and last through November, December, January, February and March. The area is under the influence of two opposite trade winds, namely the North-East and the South-West. The North-West winds come with harmatan in December and January of the year while the South-West winds come with the rains.
1.8.3 Natural Resources
ONNA Local Government Area is abundantly blessed with natural resources. The first of these natural resources worthy of mention is fresh water. Mankind through ages has been struggling for good quality water for use for man, animals, plant and industries.
In ONNA, good quality water is periodically available in flowing streams serving majority of communities. ONNA lies within the Cross River Basin, the basement complex notable for groundwater mineralization. The area includes horizons of siltstone; sandstone and limestone which are of local hydrological importance. ONNA is a coastal local government area with the Atlantic Ocean coast measuring up to 10 killmetres.
ONNA Local Government Area so far has twelve fishing ports with a large population of people. The streams, creeks, river and the sea together constitute great source of natural resources ranging from fishes, salt and pearls, etc.