THE NATURE AND CAUSES OF TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN ADO EKITI

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THE NATURE AND CAUSES OF TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN ADO EKITI

Abstract

An effective transportation system is important in sustaining economic growth in contemporary economies since it provides linkages between different parts of the country and the global world. An efficient transportation system plays an important role in catering to the daily necessities in the lives of the citizens. A well established transportation system is not only key to national growth but also serves as a catalyst for economic development of a country. However, in recent times, cities in the world have witnessed tremendous motorization. Owing to this high level of motorization, combined with increasing population in the face of inadequate traffic management strategies, modern-day cities have witnessed high traffic congestion. The Ado Ekiti road, in the Awutu Senya East Municipal Assembly, is an example of one of such roads with periodic high traffic congestion. This study was therefore conducted to assess the causes and effects of traffic congestion and also its effect on road users.

The study used a mixed research approach where a survey was conducted to interview both commercial drivers and commuters of trotro cars, and GPRTU officials were engaged in an in-depth interview. While descriptive statistics were used to present the survey findings, content analysis was used to present the interview findings. The results show that traffic congestion is primarily caused by the large number of cars, poor nature of some part of the roads, and bad parking/stopping by drivers among others. The causes and effects of traffic congestion on the activities of private commercial drivers (trotro) were it reduces the number of trips they could make in a day, increase fuel use and reduce daily sales. To passengers, it delays their time, leading to low productivity, and is associated with other health effects, among many others. The results point to the need for the rehabilitation of the road, construction of railway lines to serve as alternative routes and use of other strategies for toll collection that will minimize the traffic on the road.

 

Chapter One

Introduction

1.1 Background of the study

Improving the social and economic wellbeing of the citizenry is the aim of every nation. The long-term goal of government is to raise the standard of living of all Nigerians to a level consistent with that of a middle-income economy. One basic economic and social necessity that comes into focus when discussing economic and social development is transportation. Transportation is an activity of life processes and seeks to provide access to various activities that satisfy mobility needs of humankind (Arasan 2012).

According to Eddington (2006), an effective transportation system is important in sustaining economic growth in contemporary economies since it provides linkages between different parts of the country and the global world. It links to work, delivers products to market, underpins logistics and supply chain, and supports local and international trade. A well-established transportation system is not only key to national growth but also serves as a catalyst for economic development of a country. Thus, there is a positive relationship between transportation and productivity (Lu et al. 2009).

At the individual level, Wane (2001, p.1) also points out that „transportation is a crucial vector for urban insertion since it gives access to economic activity, facilitates family life and helps in spinning social networks. It links the different spaces of the city on which an individual or a family has to implement his or its tri-dimensional strategy of life (i.e. family, work, residence).

So, urban mobility is at the heart of the challenges faced by any city dweller‟.

Consequently, cities in the world have witnessed tremendous motorization during the recent century, especially since 1988 when global car population exceeded 400 million (Walsh, 1990). The reason for this phenomenon, according to Dimitriou (1990), is that in both the Developed and Third World countries, few activities are more poorly managed than urban transport. As such, the failure of public transport to meet the needs of travelers has intensified the demand for private cars.

Owing to this high level of motorization, combined with inadequate traffic management strategies, an aging and ill maintained vehicle stock, as well as inadequate land use and transportation planning, especially in the Developing Economies, modern-day cities have witnessed a very significant proportion of traffic congestion (Agyemeng, 2009). Described as a phenomenon of increased disruption of traffic movement on an element of the transport system, traffic congestion is most visible when the level of demand for movement approaches or exceeds the present capacity of the element (Taylor, 1999). As Taylor et al. (2000) argue, traffic congestion presents a common, if not inevitable, facet of traffic activity in a region, particularly in urban areas.

Although there is traffic congestion in most major cities of the world, there is no standard definition of it. In general, congestion occurs when the number of vehicles using the road is greater than the capacity of the available road space, impeding the efficient movement of traffic (VAGO, 2013). Rodrique et al., (2009) states that congestion can be perceived as unavoidable consequences of scarce transport facilities such as road space, parking area, road signals and effective traffic management. They argue that urban congestion mainly concerns two domains of circulation, passengers and freight which share the same infrastructure. Thus, traffic congestion condition on road networks occurs as a result of excessive use of road infrastructure beyond capacity, and it is characterized by slower speeds, longer trip hours and increased vehicular queuing (Takyi et al., 2013)

Traffic is a sign of mobility and of a dynamic economy. However, excessive congestion causes a range of undesirable consequences. It has equally created an artificial barrier to a cost effective flow of goods and persons along our highways linking major towns together (Popoola, Abiola and Adeniji, 2013). It imposes costs on the community and businesses through longer, less predictable travel times; lost productivity and additional running costs of vehicles; increased pollution, noise, loss of amenity, driver stress; and reduced time people spend with their families (VAGO, 2013)

For instance, in 2006, the Victorian Competition and Efficiency Commission (VCEC) estimated the economic costs of Melbourne’s congestion ranged from $1.3 billion to $2.6 billion per year, and that this was likely to double by 2020. These costs incurred by the community as a whole generally are not paid for by the road users who have caused them. While some level of congestion is a signal that existing road capacity is being used, the challenge is to reach an ‘optimal’ level of congestion where some road users travel on other modes of transport or with other users; travel at a different time of the day; postpone their trips to another day; or eliminate the need to travel (VAGO, 2013).

African‟s urbanization is variously referred to as „parasitic urbanism‟, „urbanization of poverty‟ and „premature urbanization‟ (e.g. Ravallion et al., 2007; Kinver, 2007), echoing Professor Mabogunje‟s (1968) claim that urbanization has outpaced economic development. To the World

Bank, Africa‟s urbanization is runaway, negatively correlated with economic growth and fuelled by strife in rural areas (World Bank, 2000).

Like the rest of Africa, Nigeria has had disappointing experiences with Rural Development and

Structural Adjustment Programs aimed at addressing urban problems (Obeng-Odoom, 2007b).

Speaking (Kwakye and Fouracre, 1998, p. 1) at a conference in Cape Town, South Africa, the Director of Planning at the Ministry of Transport and Highways, Nigeria, and his advisor said:

The urban transport system in Nigeria is characterized by the congested central areas of the cities, poor quality of service from public transport operators, high exposure to road accidents, and poor environmental standards. This is seen in long commuting times and journey delays, lengthy waiting times for public transport both at and between terminals, high accident rates, and localised poor air quality

The analysis and solution to the urban transportation problem in the GAAS study was provided by Addo (2002) and Tamakloe (1993). They suggested that Nigeria is „over-urbanized‟. Given the country‟s technological backwardness and weak management, they argued, satellite towns should be created and linked to the main cities by excellent communication lines. They also argued that the planning gap between highway engineering and Town Planning should be closed and that institutions responsible for transport planning be brought under one umbrella. While these solutions may promote administrative efficiency, it is difficult to see how they could have remedied the root causes of the urban transport problem.

It is argued here, more fundamentally, that the urban transport problem is the expression of a stressed system which is typified by the absence of alternative transport like rail, poor quality public transport, low tech urban roads, the surge in on-street hawking of goods and services and the either weak and/or poorly enforced urban transport regulations. This is a system that claims about 1600 lives and causes over 10000 injuries on an annual basis (Obeng-Odoom, 2009).

1.2 Problem Statement

Urban transportation opens up opportunities to access essential services as well as social activities (Arasan, 2012;Rodrigue et al., 2009; Lu et al.,2009). Business activities depend on urban transportation systems to ensure the mobility of its customers, employees and suppliers. The urban transport services cover a range of important social and economic services such as commuting; shopping; trips to places of education and freight distribution. Effective urban transport fulfills the demand for accessibility within cities (Okoko, 2006).

Economic and social activities of human kind revolve around transportation. It is a link to almost all sectors of an economy. Virtually everything we do relies on transportation. Trade within and between different regions is vital to economic development and directly depends on transportation (Kulash, 1999; World Bank, 2002). Thus the importance of transportation to societal growth cannot be underestimated. Broadstock (2011) and Pacione (2005), state that increasing wealth and high population, and availability of vehicle loan facilities result in more car ownership than current transportation network can handle. It could be inferred from the above statement that there is a relationship between income level and car ownership and that the dominance of private car usage, particularly within cities, is likely to increase even further as a result of rise in household income with its attendant traffic congestion and high consumption of fuel.

Traffic congestion has been one of major issues that most metropolises are facing. Some issues that have been identified as having contributed to this include the rural-urban migration (with its resultant pressures on the planning of the metropolis), the displacement of residents from the central business district (to convert residential facilities there into commercial facilities), the poor road networks, the increasing number of vehicles, poor timing of traffic signals, and attitudes of road users (Ofori-Dwumfuo and Dankwah, 2011)

As Taylor et al. (2000) argued, traffic congestion presents a common, if not inevitable, facet of traffic activity in a region, particularly in urban areas. It is also believed that the high volume of vehicles, the inadequate infrastructure and the irrational distribution of the development are the main reasons for increasing traffic jam (O‟Toole, 2012).

This phenomenon has resulted in, among other things, longer travel times, additional fuel consumption, high pollution levels, vehicle wear and tear, disutility from crowding; and (in the longer run) the costs of relocating jobs and residences and a deteriorating urban environment that has a direct bearing on sustainable development (Intikhab et al., 2008; Palma & Lindsey, 2001).Aside the economic costs, traffic congestion can have profound adverse impacts on the social (e.g. people unable to physically contact relations on time), environmental (e.g. excessive emission of carbon dioxide to cause global warming) and safety concerns.

Given the enormity of the problem, policy makers all over the world have implemented several measures to cut down or minimise the impacts of traffic congestion by properly maintaining the current road and bridge system; constructing new roads, bridges, and non-highway infrastructure; encouraging an appropriate balance between different modes, especially by developing alternatives such as public transportation and finally, employing transportation systems management and operations strategies to maximize the capacity of the infrastructure already in place (Paniati, 2004).The Government in its attempt to salvage the situation has been expanding road networks in almost all our major cities but the more they expand, the more people import cars for their domestic use (Nigeriaian Chronicle, 2007).

When one wants to travel within the city, there are usually two options available: either a private car or public transport. If the person wants to travel between two cities, usually there is a third option, a public bus. The number of private cars in Nigeria is increasing. Overall, the number of registered vehicles in Nigeria increased from 511,063 in 2000 to 841,314 in 2006 (National Road Safety Commission, 20083). Private cars in Nigeria are generally not available on hire purchase and so it requires significant income to purchase one. Generally, private cars are owned by medical doctors, bankers, lawyers, accountants and politicians. Public transport is the more common means of movement around the cities (Obeng-Odoom, 2009).

A recent study (ABLIN Consult, 2008) found that „over 80% of road transport passenger services are predominantly provided by commercial transport services‟. Here too, there are two types: taxis (for the middle class) and mini buses called „troskis‟ or commercial drivers (for the rest)(ObengOdoom, 2009).There is a relatively new type of public transport, introduced by Kufour government and therefore gave it a name, „Kufour buses‟. These are cheap in fare but woefully inadequate and riddled with poor management. Though they have helped the transport situation in Nigeriaian cities, they are relatively unknown (Obeng-Odoom, 2009).

Apart from stopping to pick a passenger, a commercial driverscan stop under three (other) circumstances: first, passengers want to buy from hawkers who have invaded the streets and have caused congestion in the cities (Akamin, 2008). Thus in the course of the journey, one can see traders offering food, water and other wares such as dog chains to passengers. Second, a policeman stops a commercial driversto either query the driver about an offence or extort some few cedis from him.

Third, the commercial driversbreaks down in the course of the journey. Though some commercial drivers are roadworthy, many of them are not. With inscriptions like „God is in control; be still‟ and „Fear not‟, the drivers try to persuade potential passengers to ignore their rickety vehicles. An interview by Akoto et al. (2013) tells of a commercial driversdriver who goes the extra mile to claim that the pitch black smoke that emits from the exhaust pipe of his commercial driversis abundant proof that the engine of his commercial driversis strong!!

A lot of research has been conducted into the phenomenon of urban transportation across the globe and especially in cities of the developing economies. Most of the research is about travel behaviour (Dissanayake&Morikawa, 2008); pollution (Atash, 2007); regulation and management (Sohail et al., 2004); motorization policies (Willoughby, 2001) and congestion (Daganzo& Cassidy, 2008).

Few authors have shown interest in urban transportation issues in Nigeria. These authors have researched on issues such as injuries or traffic accidents (Mock et al., 1999; Jørgensen&Abane, 1999) and modal choice (Abane, 1993). Aside these notable ones, not much has been written on the issue of transportation in the urban setting, especially as it relates to the impacts of traffic congestion on public transport provision.

It can be argued that the mode of operation of commercial drivers and the condition in which they operate have worsened the urban transport problem. This study is therefore conducted to assess the effect of traffic congestion on commercial transportation from the perspective of commercial drivers who use the Ado Ekiti road in the Awutu Senya East Municipality. This will go a long way to provide the requisite feedback that could influence transportation practitioners, policy makers, transportation geographers and planners in general, to put in practical measures to address the challenge. This will ensure a general improvement in the transport sector which will have several positive impacts on the residents of Awutu Senya East Municipality.

1.3 Research Questions

To achieve the objectives the study, the following research questions guided the researcher in his data collection

  • What are the main drivers of traffic jam on the Ado Ekiti road from the perspective of

commercial drivers?

  • How does traffic jam affect commercial transport operation in the Awutu Senya East

Municipality?

  • What are the costs of traffic jam to commuters who patronize commercial drivers on the Ado Ekiti road?
  • What possible solutions can help minimize the traffic jam on the Ado Ekiti road?

1.4 Objectives of the study

The main objective of the study is to examine the effect of traffic congestion on commercial transport operation. The specific objectives to be achieved by the study are;

  • To examine the main causes of traffic jam on the Ado Ekiti road
  • To assess the cost of traffic jam to commercial transport operation
  • To examine the effects of traffic jam on commuters who patronize commercial drivers.

1.5 Significance of the study

Research of this nature is intended to be of outmost importance to the government and other policy makers. The issue of traffic congestion is a burden that the government is pooling all knowledge and other resources together to find a lasting solution to the ever-increasing traffic jam.

The findings of this study are also intended to inform the Awutu Senya East Municipal Assembly, most especially the Towns and Country Planning Unit about some of the suggestions that can help ease the traffic congestion on the road. It will contribute to creating a strategic line of action in their quest to solve the problem.

To academia, it is intended to contribute to the ongoing discussions on traffic congestions which have become a canker in almost all the urban centers in Nigeria. Researchers at all the universities and institutes in the country are gathering data to help propose policies to stakeholders and other interested agencies that are interested in improving the development standards of the country.

1.6 Population and Sample

The study is designed to examine the effects of traffic jam on commercial transport operations from the perspective of commercial driversdrivers and offer some solutions to remedy the situation accordingly. In view of constraints, like computational facilities, finance, time and information resources, the study was restricted to the main Ado Ekiti roadin the Awutu Senya East Municipality.

The total sample for the study is 110 comprising of ten (10) GPRTU officials at the main station in the municipality were also selected for the study, 50 commercial drivers and 50 trotro passengers.

Thus, the total sample size for the study was 110.

1.7 Type and source of data

The study used primary data gathered from the field using questionnaire and interview guide as well as secondary data gathered from books and literature used for the literature review in chapter two. The survey data was gathered from commercial drivers and passengers whiles the interview data was gathered from GPRTU officials

1.8 Limitation of the study

The research was not free from limitations. One of the basic issues that confronted the study was how to sample from the population. There was no record on the number of commercial drivers that ply the road. It was therefore a challenge to be able to get a representative sample for the population.

However, the choice of sampling methods used did not invalidate the findings of the study.

After sampling, getting the drivers to answer the questionnaire was another challenge. Many of drivers cannot read or write well. So the researcher was forced to employ many research assistants, and this increased the cost margin of the research.

Access to data was not easy, as anticipated. The persons that were assigned to assist the researcher were often not available. In most cases the data was just not available, making the whole process a little difficult.

Given the scope and time frame the researcher had to complete this work, time constraint became a major obstacle to the researcher. Much money was required for the completion of this work.

Like every study done, the respondents may not always be truthful in the answers they give.

THE NATURE AND CAUSES OF TRAFFIC CONGESTION IN ADO EKITI

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