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1.1             Background to the Study

Transportation encompasses the movement of people, goods and services from one point of origin to destination (Filani, 1993). Transportation is indispensable to modern economic development especially in a developing country like Nigeria. It plays a vital role in shaping the economy of any nation (or region) because modern industries and commercial activities rely on proper, well developed and efficient transport system (Anyanwu, Oaikhena, Oyefusi and Dimowo, 1997). 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.

Transport is a central dimension of the national and global production systems that are reshaping the world, making it a topic of universal interest and importance. People move from one place to the other, regularly or occasionally. Goods collected, extracted and manufactured, must be distributed from place to place prior to consumption. People who need services, which are generally provided at a limited number of places, must travel in order to access such services. Transport therefore fulfils a very important function in a society and is one of the most pervasive factors in any economy (Munby in Hoyle and Knowles, 2001).

Transport plays a crucial role in urban growth by linking and providing access for people to essential services such as education, markets, employment, recreation, health care and other key services that induce growth of towns, cities and metropolis. Enhanced mobility for the poor and vulnerable groupsespecially in cities of the developing world, is

one of the most important preconditions for achieving Millennium Development Goals. Those cities with transport modes in an integrated system are more likely to evolve and prosper as centers for trade, commerce, industry, education, tourism and services (Buis, 2009). The rate of growth of urban centers has called for the need for movement of people, goods, services and information. In order to sustain the growth of urban centers, efficient transportation system is required (Button, 1991). However, the rate of growth of urban centers is related to the rate of movement of people, goods and services, using different means of transportation (Hoyle and Knowles, 1998).

Transport developments may lead to changes in the pattern of land use in an urban center around the transport corridors, with more transport intensive uses; including consumer activities locating closer to transport interchanges. Commercial, retail and residential development may be affected. These impacts can be important at a local level but basically affect the geographical pattern of activity rather than the overall level of activity. The effects are therefore, local rather than national or even regional (Planning, Economic and Development Consultants, 2004).

There are different conventional transport modes: roads, rail, air, water and pipelines. These modes of transport are all important in one way or the other. For instance, rail is prominent in the transportation of goods, but its relative advantage is limited to long distance bulk movement. Air transport is more efficient in the movement of passengers and high valued goods over long distance. In the case of water transport, its advantage lies in the capacity to carry bulk cargo over long distances at cheaper rates than other forms of transport modes.

Roads transport on the other hand, serves other modes of transport as it provides door-to-door services. Schneider (1994) described roads as an integrated system that is made up of nodes and routes.The nodes are towns which associated themselves to the roads, while the routes are the different types of roads. Howe (1984) defined roads as an economic penetrating route which is required to open ways for investment in new activities such as agriculture and commerce. Musa (2003) defined roads as those which are clearly necessary ingredients of nearly every aspect of economic and social development. It links the most remote locations and has been found to be more useful in gathering goods to collection points for distribution and marketing in rural and urban centers. Ajiboye and Afolayan (2009), noted that road transport is the most common and complex network. It covers a wide range, physically convenient, highly flexible and usually the most operationally suitable and readily available means of movement of goods and passenger traffic over short, medium and long distances. This is why attention is often placed on road transport development.

Road networks are observed in terms of its components of accessibility, connectivity, traffic density, level of service, compactness and density of particular roads. Access to major roads provides relative advantages consequent upon which commercial users locate to enjoy the advantages. Good road projects clearly contribute to poverty reduction by improving the living conditions of people and by augmenting the opportunities available for trade and employment (Onakomaiya, 2012).

The economic development of Nigeria has reflected the development of her transport systems. This is particularly true of the road transport system, which is by far the most widely used mode of transport in the country. Filani (2003), noted that the vast

majority of transportation in Nigeria is by road. Today, road transport accounts for more than 90% of the country‟s goods and passengers movements. This was further reaffirmed by Onakomaiya (2012), that of all commodity movements to and from the sea-ports, at least two-thirds are now handled by road transport, while up to 90% of all other internal movements of goods and persons take place by roads. The potential significance of road development for investment, trade, growth and poverty alleviation has long been recognized. Not only does road transport infrastructure facilitate the direct provision of services to consumers, it also provides intermediate inputs that enter into the production of other sectors and raise factor productivity (Anyanwu, et al., 1997). As such, its role toward enhancing economic growth and diversification cannot be underestimated. Thus, the role played by roads in economic development has motivated government to spend a lot on transport development with huge amount of money budgeted to roads in the transport sector (National Development plan, 1975-1980).

Abia is a typical example of the rapid growth and development of cities in Nigeria in terms of commercial activities. Since then road networks have been improved for the increase in concentration of pedestrian and vehicular movements. Similarly, commercial activities like banking, retail/wholesale businesses and professional services congregated to take advantage of nearness to seat of governance. Concentration of activities attracted consumers and ancillary service providers. This partly caused increase in urban growth and its concomitant effects on commercial activities along the old and newly constructed road networks in the metropolis. It is also evident that Abia State government has spent a considerable amount of financial resources constructing, expanding and modernizing roads in the state, particularly in the state capital Umuahia,


where many other such projects are still ongoing. The state government has since the

creation of Abia state in 27,August,1991 embarked upon the development of more roads to increase

connectivity and accessibility, within and around the state.

Table 1.1 below shows that the Abia State Government had spent a total of 116.7

billion nairain the state to construct, rehabilitate and renovate road networks in the state

from 1991 – 2017.

Table 1.1 Roads Network Developed in Abia State


Km of Roads

% of

Cost of




of cost

( N billion)

1991 – 2005

411.36 km




2006 – 2017

621.40 km





1,032.76 km




Source: Abia State Ministry for Works and Transport, 2017

The Table 1.2below also shows that Abia State Government had spent a total of

54.3 billion naira to develop road networks of about 108.28km in the state capital.

Table 1.2: Roads Network Developed in Abia Metropolis


Km of


Cost of



of roads


of cost



– 2005

32.16 km





- 2017










Source: Abia State Ministry for Works and Transport, 2017


1.2 Statement of the Research Problem

Urban areas all overthe world offer a number of advantages in terms of concentration of people followed by demand for transportation and residential accommodation. In Nigeria, Abia is a good example of an urban center that has developed rapidly since 1991, when it became the capital of Abia State. Construction of roads increased substantially with the opening up of residential areas that also benefitted from increasing demand for lettable spaces in commercial properties. A good number of private companies, retail stores, commercial banks and so on aggregate in the metropolis to take advantage of opportunities afforded by locations near the seat of governance, thus attracting complimentary services. This led to high concentration of vehicular and pedestrian movements especially along the access roads.

The relationship between road transport and development has been the focus of many studies. For example, Aderamo (1990) examined road development and urban expansion of Illorin, Nigeria. The author observed that the choice of Illorin as the state capital resulted in its rapid population increase and area expansion. It revealed that the city has four major residential districts which are clearly identifiable on the urban landscape. Today, Illorin has witnessed more physical expansion and opening-up of new road network resulting in the city enveloping many of the smaller settlement around it which makes it more accessible within and outside the city.

Dakyes and Ogbuli (2012) investigated the impact of road transport development on socio-economic development in Gwagwalada Area Council, Abuja, Nigeria. The study concluded that improvement in transportation, especially road development, would no

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