The provision of rural transport system: A case of Nyabiosi sub-location in Rigoma division of Nyamira district
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Many third world countries (Kenya included) have historically devoted a fair share of their development budgets on expansion of rural road networks as the prime means of enhancing accessibility and personal mobility of the rural dwellers. The rationale for transport infrastructure was, and continues to be, predicated on the concept of vehicular traffic. However, this has not necessarily translated to tangible benefits, as the roads in themselves have not accommodated the full diversity of demand for transport by the rural households that in most instances is not related to either a road, or the use of a motorised vehicle. This inadequacy has ensured that majority of rural inhabitants remain captives to a walking and headlback carrying mode of travel and moving goods. Transport activities continue to take up an inordinate amount of time and effort of the rural residents as they try to access activity centres. This negates rural poverty eradication efforts as households can only move from subsistence to higher levels of production and earnings if first they are able to meet basic needs by ideally spending less time and effort. Thus there is need to direct public investments to appropriate transport interventions that would reduce the unproductive time and effort spent by households on transport. This research recognizes that rural transport is directly related to rural access problems, and it impacts negatively rural socio-economic development. However, lack of perception of local-level transport problems by policy makers has resulted to unresponsive rural transport systems. This research set out three objectives: to (i) establish the nature of the transport system in Nyabiosi Sub-Location, (ii) establish the nature and extent of access and mobility needs of the households in the study area, and (iii) propose appropriate interventions to increase accessibility and mobility capacity of the households in the study area and in other rural areas in Kenya with similar set ups. The study took the household as the generator of rural travel and transport patterns. It also considered rural transport as the movement of rural people and their goods to meet their domestic, economic and social needs, by any means, along any conceivable infrastructure (including undesignated roads, tracks, trails and paths). Rather than analyzing the needs of transport system from the point of view of a particular function to be performed, the study focussed on the transport needs of individual households. Questionnaires were used to capture the travel patterns of the households. To explore the local travel situation in a context beyond everyday needs of the household, data on transport services and infrastructural needs ,were obtained by holding interviews with public transport providers and users. Secondary data were obtained through literature review. An analysis of field data revealed that: vehicle ownership levels are very low; the village infrastructure is in poor condition, there are no local-level transport services, available public, transport services are unaffordable to most households; although women are the main transporters, they make little use of low-cost vehicles due to factors ranging from cultural constraints to lack of financial capacity to own any form of IMT; a major proportion of household transport time (62.6%) and effort (77.8%) is spent on accomplishing subsistence activities - collecting water, fetching firewood and travelling to grinding mill; and water collection is the single most important transport activity consuming 52.5% and 59.1% of total transport time and effort respectively. These findings support the study hypothesis that transport for subsistence activities consume considerable household time and effort and therefore jeopardises its ability to engage in more productive activities. The transport constraints established in the study cut across various sectors and are relevant to a range of key development issues. They extend the subject outside the transport see tor to encompass broader rural planning issues and argue t he case for an integrated approach to rural transport planning. Accordingly, in addition to development of the rural road network, the study recommends other interventions involving three key elements: (i) Improvement of local-level infrastructure such as paths, tracks, and water crossings to facilitate travel on foot and or use of low-cost means of transport. (ii) Provision of adequate and affordable rural transport services, and promotion and use of intermediate means of transport (iii)Siting of services closer to the communities, thereby obviating the need for lengthy travel.