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Rural Transport Modes in Auchi and Environs

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In as much as it is easier to define the concept ‘transport’, the word ‘rural’ is a bit more difficult. Like its urban concept, there have been problems with definitions of ‘rural’ since no single criterion could be used because some countries use low population figures while other use high population figure in determining ‘rural’. There is a demographic definition of ‘rural’ using minimum population thresholds. Often the minimum population figures that a place must have to qualify as a rural area is specified. This minimum population size varies from one place to the other depending on the situation of the country concerned. It has been noted that a population of 2,500 and below is the distinction on which rural areas are recognized in the United States of America. However, the figures used in other countries vary remarkably from that of the U.S.A. In Denmark, a rural place is an agglomeration of 250 or less people. Greece, rural places include agglomerations of 10,000 or less, whereas Guatamala has considered places as rural if they have 2,000 or less inhabitants, plus places with 1,500 or less inhabitants of which running water service is provided in their houses (Ola, 2000). According to the Nigerian (1952) census, a rural place is an area having a population of less than 5,000. By contrast, the 1963 census fixed 20,000 or less people. In Canada, it is below 1,000, in France, it is 2,000 and below and in Japan it is below 3,000. Thus, rural population is defined in terms of settlement below 20,000 population as in Nigeria.

The term ‘rural’ has therefore, generated more controversy in the literature and involves economic, sociological, ethnic, racial and numerical dimensions. In Nigeria, rural areas are inhabited by people whose occupations are primarily agriculture (Aloba, 1986). The spatial nature of resources in rural areas made the provision of rural roads network necessary factor for development. As a result of the neglect, the rural areas have always been associated with under-development as well as classified as zones of high propensity for out migration (Udo, 1975; Uyanga, 1980; and Makinwa, 1981). Rural area can therefore be defined as an area dominated by extensive land uses such as agriculture and forestry or large space of under-developed land.

The term ‘rural transport’ can be defined as short-distance movements between an urban centre and the surrounding rural areas, between two rural settlements or between a rural settlement and the farmland that belongs to it (Aloba, 1986; Aluko, 2000). However, the modes, routes and traffic of rural transport may depend to some extent, on the prevailing geographical, environmental and technological development of the area under study. Rural transport therefore, means movement of people, goods and services within rural areas and between (rural areas) and urban centres that will afford the rural areas the opportunity to reach their economic growth and trade potential to enable them attain their desired quality of life.



The search for a new rural transport planning paradigm in developing countries began in a some what unfocused manner. The initial point of departure was simply dissatisfaction with the existing implied policy – reliance on infrastructure investment for conventional motorized vehicles as both the catalyst for economic and social change, and the prime means of enhancing accessibility and personal mobility, with vehicle supply being left to the private sector (Howe, 2001;Atubi and Ali, 2008). Early criticism focused on the unnecessarily high design standards applied to local feeder, penetration or development – roads, and the resulting slow and uncertain rate of network development (Stuckey, 1973); the in-affordability and indeed non-availability of motor vehicles to the mass of population, and the neglect of effective policies for the development of the local transport and vehicle system (Howe, 1975).


The substitution of household for the transport system as the fundamental unit of travel analysis enabled a conceptual leap in rural transport studies to take place. The first systematic use of the travel characteristics of the household as the basic unit of travel study and analysis in developing countries took place during the mid-1980’s in the course of two studies, one in Tanzania and one in Ghana (Bawell and Malmberg- Calvo, 1986; Barwell and Howe, 1987). The core of the method was a structured interview, which recorded basic data about a household and the local and external travel activities of its members. It required a broadening of the notion of transport which was defined as travel from home for any purpose and by any means of movement, including walking or carrying loads on the head and back. The result was a quantification of household movements in terms of trips, time spent traveling and distance traveled to various facilities such as supplies of water, firewood, health clinic, grain grinding mills, markets etc, tonne and tonne-km of effort, modes used, and the gender and adult child involvement split. Methodologically the technique was a significant advance since a degree of precision in quantifying household travel demands was achieved (Barwell, et al, 1987).


Approach to rural transport study requires a holistic understanding of the mobility and access needs of the rural communities. It is a demand – led, or people – centred approach with emphasis on the need expressed by affected communities (i.e. Auchi and environs). In context, rural transport is more broadly seen as an input into successful rural livelihood strategies, within which access consists of three complementary elements – (a) rural transport services and intermediate means of transport, (b) location and quality of facilities and (c) Rural infrastructure as show in figure 1 (Lebo and Schelling, 2001).


This deals with availability, affordability of rural transport services and intermediate means of transport in rural areas and their role in promoting rural economic development (Slack, 1990; Riverson and Carapetis, 1991). The knowledge base covers information on rural travel patterns and surveying the role of government in creating an enabling environment for the services (establishing import duties and licenses, taxes, tariff and route regulation, safety measures and subsidies), the role of the private sector (acting as operators, manufactures and credit institutions) and social and cultural aspects. Other issues include the provision of vehicles (motorized and non-motorized) and their application (Melmberg-Calvo, 1994b; Barwell, 1996).

Fig. 1: The Elements of Rural Transport

(Adopted from Lebo and Schelling, 2001)


The second element of a comprehensive rural transport framework is the location and quality of facilities. The distance from households to facilities such as wells, forest, grinding mills, schools, and health centres determines the amount of time rural dwellers spend on transport activities. Numerous studies on rural transport have shown that rural households, and particularly women, spend a substantial amount of time and effort on transport activities (McCall, 1985; Malmberg-Calvo, 1994a, 1998). The bulk of these efforts are required for domestic subsistence activities. In view of planners, this time is unproductive and wasted, and a drain on potentially productive labour – the principal economic resource for most rural households (Edmonds, 1998). Thus improved quality and better locations of facilities are important to consider when examining alternative access improvements in rural areas.


Complementing means of transport and the location and quality of facilities is the third element of rural transportation – rural transport infrastructure. Rural transport infrastructure is the rural road, track and path network on which the rural population performs its transport activities. Other issues of rural transport infrastructure include the framework for management and finance, ownership and responsibility, local capacity, design appraisal and traffic characteristics (Malmberg-Calvo, 1998; Cannon and Lebo, 1999). There is also transport policy and strategy to address the issues mentioned above.


The rural transport road mode in Auchi and environs could be classified into two major parts:

  1. Non-motorized
  2. Motorized

1.Non-motorized system: This includes:

i.Head porterage

ii.Bicycle carriage

  1. Head Porterage: This is the traditional way of carriage in most rural areas. It is the oldest mode so far and always meant for subsistent, purposes. Trekking from one place to another in the rural areas is limited by the distance and capacity of the journey maker both in carriage and walking. It is assumed that the maximum distance an average man can trek is about 3km per hour and the maximum load capacity is 40kg which when carried over a long distance reduces the journey rate to about 2km/hour (Aluko, 2000).
  2. Bicycle: Bicycle is also classified as an un-motorized system of rural transport system. It is a bit better than the head porterage mode for its improvement in speed and carriage capacity. The bicycle’s speed can be estimated as 20km/hour and with a carrying capacity of between 80kg and 100kg (Aloba, 1986; Ikporukpo, 1987; Aluko, 2000).

2.Motorized Modes

The motorized mode of rural transport is the use of auto-engines to transport both human and freight in the rural areas. The commonest type of motorized modes are:

  1. Motorcycles
  2. Motor cars
  3. Pick-ups
  4. Mini bus
  5. Lorries/tippers
  1. Motorcycles: The motorcycles are found very commonly in rural areas but are not usually as common as bicycle because of the high cost involved in procuring one and which can only be afforded by very few people in a rural set up. By and large, a motorbike is more powerful than the bicycle and so the speed is far higher than the bicycle in folds.
  2. Motor cars: These exist in term of taxi or cabs which usually have a capacity of four passengers, but which in most cases are overloaded with either passengers or freights or both in few places where they are found. The types of cabs found in the rural areas are vehicles, which are not road worthy in any form. They are found at road junctions connecting different villages to carry passengers in these rural sets up; or better still they could be found at some designated areas called “garages” (Motor parks) where such exists.
  3. Pick-ups: This is another motor vehicle designed for freight transportation and in few occasions may as well transport the rural people. Farm produce are transported from the farm or village to the urban centres in large quantities.
  4. Mini-buses: The mini-buses are used for human transportation. They are of the exact distinct option given to the cabs but in this case mini-buses are bigger than buses for its carrying capacity. It is usually a 16-seater bus (urvan) and the 14-seaters (c.20). They are known for their van-pulling purpose while their journey time is usually more than the cabs in that they stop in virtually all the villages and junctions reached.
  5. Lorries: The Lorries are another motorized mode used in the rural areas. They carry passengers but their major purpose is to transport rural freight from place to place. In most cases, the 10 tonnes and the 15 tonnes Lorries are commonly found. In this case, they are mostly used to evacuate the farm produce to the urban centres where they are disposed for prices. Farmers of varying number can come together to hire a lorry for this purpose


For a tremendous improvement of rural transport in Auchi and environs in particular and Nigeria in general to take place, the following strategies and useful recommendations might help in the development of rural transportation.

  1. There should be a well-articulated rural development policy that would spell out the necessary strategies that are properly conceptualized.
  2. Special fund should be made available for rural development. This should be structured (if possible) in such a way that it will be administered from the federal level. Also, budgetary allocations to rural transport must be disbursed and on time for the implementation of proposals.
  3. There should be a department of rural development or federal ministry of rural development that will oversee the state and local government rural departments. That is, these must be well-defined authority at all levels of governments solely for the enhancement of rural transport. The duties of the authority in the planning implementation and maintenance of the roads must be well spelt out.


Transportation is one of the various elemental factors in rural development and it is necessary to understand its role in rural development and particularly how transport and other factors for development interact to produce the resulting structure of the rural economy and society. Rural transportation is also very important for the growth and development of any rural area (i.e. Auchi and environs) and as well as for the efficient movement of people and goods throughout the country.


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Aluko, O. (2000) Rural Transportation and Development Planning in Nigeria. Kins book Publication Series, Ibadan, Oyo State.

Atubi, A.O. and Ali, A.N. (2008) Development in Conceptual and Methodological Advances in Rural Transportation. International Journal of Development Studies. Vol. 3, No. 4, Pp. 79-82.

Barwell, I. (1996) Transport and the Villages. World Bank Discussion Paper, 344, Washington DC.

Barwell, I. and Howe, J. (1987) Study of Potential for IMT: Executive Summary and Main Report (Ghana). I.T. Transport Consultancy Commissioned by World Bank Washington D.C.

Barwell, I. and Malmberg-Calvo, C. (1986) Market Integrated Rural Transport Project: Preliminary Findings from a Village Level Transport Survey. Ilo Rural Transport Paper 4, I. T. Transport Consultancy, Geneva.

Barwell, I.; Howe, J. and Zille, P. (1987) Household Time use and Agricultural Productivity in Sub-Saharan African: A Synthesis of I.T. Transport Research. I.T. Transport Ltd, Washington DC.

Cannon, C. and Lebo, J. (1999) “Design and Education of vary low-volume Rural Roads in Developing Countries: Transportation Research Record. 1652, Transportation Research Board, Washington DC.

Edmonds, G. (1998) Wasted Time: The Price of Poor Access. International Labour Organization. Office, Geneva.

Howe, J. (1975) “The Future of Surface Transport in Africa” African Affairs, Vol. 1, 74, No. 296, Pp. 134-325.

Howe, J. (2001) Village Level Transport. Rural Transport Knowledge Based Rural Travel and Transport Programme.

Ikporukpo, C.O. (1987) “An Analysis of the Accessibility of Public Facilities in Nigeria” Socio-Economic Planning Services. Vol. 21, Pp. 61-69.

Lebo, J. and Schelling, D. (2001) “Design and Appraisal of Rural Transport Infrastructure: Ensuring Basic Access for Rural Communities” World Bank Technical Paper. No. 496. Washington DC.

Makinwa, P.K. (1981) Internal Migration and Rural Development: Lesson from Bendel State. Heinemann, Ibadan.

Malmberg-Calvo, C, (1994b) Case Study on Intermediate means of Transport: Bicycle and Rural Women in Uganda. World Bank Sub-Saharan African Transport Policy Program, Working Paper No. 12.

Malmberg-Calvo, C. (1994a) Case Study on the Role of Women in Rural Transport: Access of Women to Domestic Facilities. World Bank, Sub-Saharan African Transport Policy Program, Working Paper, No. 11.

Malmberg-Calvo, C. (1998) “Options for Managing and Financing Rural Transport Infrastructure” World Bank Technical Paper. No. 411, Washington, DC.

McCall, M. (1985) “Accessibility and Mobility in Peasant Agriculture in Tropical Africa” in Cloke, P. (ed.) Rural Accessibility and Mobility. Institute of British Geographers, Rural Geography Study Group, Lampeter, pp. 46-63.

Ola, A. (2000). Rural Transportation and Development Planning in Nigeria. Kings Book Publications Series, Ibadan.

Riverson, J.D.N. and Carapetis, S. (1991): Intermediate means of Transport in Sub-Saharan Africa: Its Potential for Imposing Rural and Transport” World Bank Technical Paper. 161 Washington DC.

Slack, B. (1990) “Intermodal Transportation in North America and the Development of Inland Load Centres” Professional Geographer 42, Pp. 72-83.

Stuckey, B. (1973). Transportation and African Development: The land-locked Countries. Institute for Economic Development and Planning, Ibadan.

Udo, R.K. (1975) Migrant Tenant Farmers of Nigeria: A Geographical Study of Rural Migration in Nigeria. African University Press, Ibadan.

Uyanga, J.I. (1980) A Geography of Rural Development in Nigeria. University Press of America, Washington DC.


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