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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.

1.8.2    Geography

            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.

There are twelve fishing ports or secondary villages in ONNA namely:

1)                  Akata

2)                  NtungboAkata

3)                  IneEdor

4)                  IneUkpana

5)                  IneUkpah

6)                  IneEkpatOkuk

7)                  IneIkwe

8)                  IneOdio

9)                  IwudUkpum

10)              OkpoIta

11)              IkotNtokEbok and

12)              ItakAbasi

ONNA is blessed with rich tropical vegetation, which lacks the type of forest characteristics of the tropical zone because of the impact of shifting cultivation, which has led to deforestation of the tropical forests.  Nevertheless the swamps which now replace the tropical forest, still yield trees of good timber as Iroko, Iron wood, mahogany, cedar, ebony, and many other hard and soft woods.

            ONNA’s soil is equally fertile for many economic agricultural plants as the oil palms, coconut palms, raffia palms, cocoa and rubber and many food plants also thrive in Onna, namely:

(a)                Arable tubers as cassava, yams, cocoyam, plantain and bananas.

(b)               Arable grains as rice, maize and beans.

(c)                Vegetables as fluted pumpkin, water leaves, bitter leaves, afang, atama, eritan, okro, mushroom, cabbage and lettuce, etc

(d)               Spices like pepper, iko, odusa, ata, ginger, uyayak, melons and bush mango, etc.

Fruits like citrus, pineapples, pawpaw, avocado, apples, quaver, garden eggs, bitter kola, kola, pumps water lemons, cucumber, ndiya, nkarika, udara, oil beans, nyatet, walnuts, sawasawa, alligator pepper, carrots and sugarcane. ONNA soil is also fertile for important economic tree crops namely:

(a)          Oil palms

(b)         Coconut palms

(c)          Raffia palms

(d)         Rubber and

(e)          Cocoa

Plantations of these economics tree crops are very successful in the LGA. The people also engage in non-agricultural economic activities.  These include public services as mainly, education, health, transportation and the main civil service.  Another are engaging the population of ONNA is the petroleum industry, on both on shore and off-shore establishment.

1.8.4    Mineral – Based Raw Materials

Nature has endowed ONNA Local Government Area with the presence of a number of minerals. ONNA is part of the basement complex, which is important source of minerals and provide rich quality stones for building and engineering construction.

ONNA is blessed with various kinds of clay particularly good for ceramics and pottery. ONNA is blessed with oil and gas deposits in the oil-bearing sands alternating with marine shale. More accumulations of oil and gas are exploited off-shore along the continental shelf.

1.8.5    Population

The population of Onna Local Government Area is 123,373 according to 2006 national census. The male population is 59,598 and the female is 63,775.

1.8.6    Drainage

            ONNA Local Government Area is a real watershed characteristic of the Niger Delta. ONNA LGA has over twenty-four perennial streams whose waters are useful for domestic and industrial uses all year round. The northern streams flow into Awa creek while most of the southern stream flow north-south and east into the Qua Iboe River and a few north-south wards into the Gulf of Guinea, of the Atlantic Ocean. These streams are fringed on both sides with swamps which stretch at times over two kilometers. These swamps form our remains of tropical forests where timber trees and fodders abound. These streams and swamps have branches, which leave out no village in ONNA LGA.

1.8.7    Arable Land

            The ONNA part of the Niger Delta has been under shifting cultivation for many centuries. Consequently there are no parts left with very thick forests. The forests, swamps and bushes have all become arable land. Most of the arable lands are still being owned as communal lands which are collectively cultivated by the members of the communities. Almost the entire local government area, excluding the actual villages, is arable land with water routes which can be taken as 60% of the whole area measuring about twenty four thousand square kilometres.

1.8.8    People and Culture

            ONNA is made up of a homogenous group of people who originated from a single ancestral stock known in history as Ibibio.  The Ibibio language is spoken and understood by all. ONNA is the first and the last people to inhabit the area where she still inhabits today. ONNA is recorded among the Ibibio who first inhabited the area known before as former Calabar Province or Ibibio Nation.

            ONNA people have been among the earliest civilized peoples of Nigeria who were not lacking behind the rest of the peoples of Nigeria. They arrived as feudal people and set out to lay claims to as much land as they could project from other peoples who became their neighbours. The British colonialists met them as well determine kingdoms and therefore signed the protectorate agreement with their heads whom they designated earlier as kings of respective kingdoms which they later called clans.

ONNA people believed in deities and jujus like most ancient peoples until Christianity was brought to them by Rev. S. A. Bill who founded the Qua Iboe church in 1894.

The area is crossed and recrossed by a network of water ways that it is possible to travel by water from one segment to another.  All the most powerful jujus and principal deities are connected with the sea, river and streams and swamps where their shrines exist till today.

In old times of some centuries, objects of these jujus or deities, designated as ‘Mbiam’ or ’Doctor’ served as oaths which people never swore to tell lies unlike today when people swear on the bible even when they are telling lies.  The people of ONNA are like all other Ibibio, rich in culture. By reason of their homogeneity, the cultures of the whole are the same these culture include dance, songs, monuments, mythology, shrines, funeral method, folklore, mode of dressing, ways of preparing foods, cults, festivals displays, social organizations and occupations. The cultural displays include Ekong and Ekpo masquerades.

The culture of the peoples of ONNA LGA is reflected in their past history, craftsmanship, music and dances, and dress patterns and peoples cordial relationship.

1.8.9    Economic Activities

            ONNA Local Government Area is mainly an agricultural area engaging more than 90% of the entire population. The area is blessed with rich fertile soil and tropical vegetable which embrace very many crops, and animals. The area is also waterlogged with the Qua Iboeriver along its north south eastern length, with creeks along her east west widths and several streams intersecting her entire body from the north to the south and from the west to the east.  In the streams there are very many species of fresh water fishes, which make fresh water fishing a lucrative occupation.

The tropical vegetation is mostly found in the swamps around the numerous creeks and streams over where some regulations are observed about their exploitations. The tropical vegetations is rich in timber trees like mahogany, cedar, iron wood, owen, and other very many to mention.

In the creeks, there are salt-water fishes, which make for occupation of fishing in the creeks.  At the sea, there are many species of fishes which make sea-fishing very lucrative business engaging all the people of the fishing villages.

The tropical vegetables is also rich with fodders to support numerous wild animals and live stocks.  The wild animals include antelope, pig, hyenas, monkeys and many others which make hunting a rewarding occupation.  The livestock include poultry, sheep, goat, cattle, pig and other which make livestock very paying occupation.

The soil of the ONNA Local Government Area is very rich and very productive of very many agricultural crops which can be classified into five classes, namely:

(a)          Arable Tubers – Cassava, yams, cocoyam, plantain and banana

(b)         Arable grains – Rice, maize, and beans

(c)          Vegetables – Fluted pumpkin, water leaves, bitter leaves, afang, atama, eritan, okro, mushroom, cabbage, lettuce, inyangafaia etc.

(d)         Spices – Pepper, iko, odua, ata, ginger, uyayak, melons, onions, mfong and uyo.

(e)          Fruits – Citrus, pineapples, pawpaw, avocado pears, apples quaver, garden eggs, bitter kola, plumbs, water lemons, cucumber, ndiya, nkarika, udara, oil beans, nyatet, walnuts, sawasawa, alligator pepper, carrots, and sugarcane.

1.8.10  Road development and Transport

Transportation is crucial to all sectors of the economy for the movement of people and goods.  There are two main modes of transportation in and out of ONNA local government area: namely, road and water, but the dominant mode is road. Nearby, all the feeder roads that link ONNA to the urban have been badly deteriorated and in dis-repair for a long time, some have actually collapsed and, as a consequence, the movement of both people and goods to the urban has become generally costly. This has hindered the transportation of farm produces from the rural area to the urban for marketing and has contributed to a low marketing completion in the rural area. In its efforts to address the problem of inadequate road infrastructure in the local government, the government has come up with a plan to rehabilitate roads within the area and opening of new ones.

1.9       Definition of Terms

1.9.1    Spatial Interaction:“a spatial interaction is a realized movement of people, freight or information between an origin and a destination. It is a transport demand / supply relationship expressed over a geographical space”(Jean-Paul R. 2017).

1.9.2    Road Infrastructure: The Victorian Road Management Act 2004 states that road infrastructure means the infrastructure which forms part of a roadway , pathway or shoulder, including  structures forming part of the roadway, pathway or shoulder; materials from which a roadway, pathway or shoulder is made. It gives the following examples of road infrastructure: a bridge, culvert or ford forming part of a roadway. Materials such as asphalt, bitumen, gravel, lane markers and lines from which a roadway, pathway or shoulder is made.

1.9.3    Accessibility:Is defined as the measure of the capacity of a location to be reached by, or to reach different locations. Therefore, the capacity and the arrangement of transport infrastructure are key elements in the determination of accessibility.

1.9.4    Linkages: These are the infrastructures supporting flows from, to and between nodes. The lowest level of linkages includes streets, which are the defining elements of the urban spatial structure.