RURAL ROADS AS ARTERIES OF EXPEDITED DEVELOPMENT BY REV. (ENGR) CHARLES N. OKONGOH PROJECT COORDINATOR CROSS RIVER RURAL ACCESS AND MOBILITY PROJECT (CR-RAMP), CALABAR

RURAL ROADS AS ARTERIES OF EXPEDITED DEVELOPMENT BY REV. (ENGR) CHARLES N. OKONGOH PROJECT COORDINATOR CROSS RIVER RURAL ACCESS AND MOBILITY PROJECT (CR-RAMP), CALABAR

January 06
07:22 2021

INTRODUCTION:-

Nigeria’s rural transport infrastructure has been identified as a crucial component for the economic development of the country by linking the rural communities to the urban areas.  Most of the rural roads are in a very poor condition, and impose significant cost to the national economy especially to the agricultural activities and commuters due to increased vehicles operating costs and travel times.

Nigeria has a total road network of 195,000 kilometers with Federal Roads 32,100 km (16.5%), State Roads, 30,900 km (15.8%) and Local Government roads or Rural roads, 132,000 km (67.7%).  About 90% of the total transportation volume of goods and passengers is handled by the road network. Cross River State has a total road network of 6,078 km with Federal Roads 1,175 km (19%), State Roads 2,327 km (38%) and Local Government or Rural Roads 2,576 km (43%).  Over 70% of the State and Local Government roads require urgent rehabilitation.

The Federal roads form the main arterial roads and are referred to as tertiary road network.  The State roads are secondary roads which link to the tertiary roads while the Local Government roads or rural roads are the primary roads linking rural communities to secondary and tertiary road, to form a network similar to the blood arteries of the body.

The surface density of the road network of Nigeria with land area of 923,768 square kilometer with road length of 195,000 kilometers is 0.21 km/sq. km. A similar figure for Cross River State with a land mass of 22,150 square kilometers and 6,078 km is 0.27 km/square kilometer.  These key development index tells a sad story of the under development in the road infrastructure sub-sector of the economy.

RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY:-

Available records suggest that about 70% of over 170 millions Nigerians and over 3 million Cross Riverians whose only means of livelihood is agriculture reside in the rural areas; and only less than half of them live less than 2 km away from any all season roads.

In view of the urgent need to return the economy of this country from its present state of oil dependence to agricultural boom through increased production and marketing; the role of rural transport infrastructure development cannot be over emphasized.

In realization of the importance of rural transport in the country, the Federal Government of Nigeria launched a new policy blue print viz. the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (NEEDS), State Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy (SEEDS) and Local Government Economic and Development Strategy (LEEDS) with the following objectives: (a) Improve Transport Infrastructures and (b) Promote Agricultural Development.  Through the Rural Travel and Transport Programme (RTTP) a National Policy on Rural Travel and Transport (NPRTT) was prepared by the Federal Government of Nigeria.  The three tiers of Government are expected to rigorously implement these strategies together assisted by donor funded projects of the World Bank, African Development Bank, European Union, French Development Agency etc.

Rural road infrastructure to expedite development must be sustainable with the choice of the candidate roads based on internationally accepted multi-criteria analysis, road continuity to achieve inter-connectivity with existing road networks to enhance economic efficiency, accessibility, mobility and social impact.

EXPEDITED RURAL INFRASTRUCTURE DEVELOPMENT IN CROSS RIVER STATE

In Cross River State, the following six Implementation Agencies are involved in Rural Infrastructure Development:- Rural Development Agency (RUDA), Rural Access and Mobility Project (RAMP), Community and Social Development Agency (CSDA), National Fadama II (NF), National Programme for Food Security (NPFS) and Ministry of Works (MOW).

The interventions of these projects notably CR-RAMP has made significant progress in improving rural transport infrastructure and general economic and social well beings of the people.  Increased intervention will not only feed the Nation but able to export to other parts of the world in line with the agriculture export zero reject initiative of the President Mohammed Buhari administration.

With the rural roads selected strictly in accordance with the selection criteria, evaluated using baseline studies and approved performance indicators, prioritized and constructed according to specifications to provide all weather roads, their immense contribution to the socio economy of the States include:-

  1. Early transportation of agricultural produce to markets with corresponding reduction in post harvest loss.
  2. Reduced travel time for commuters to markets and social centres and low vehicular operating costs.
  • Access to agricultural inputs at cheaper rates with increase productivity.
  1. With road accessibility, cottage industries for processing of agricultural products with appropriate branding will produce additional income to farmers and members of communities.
  2. Incentives to produce a marketable surplus will be high, the resulting additional production will improve the food security and income of households.
  3. The economic impact on the women will be enormous. The ‘Nigerian Women account for more than 60% of the agricultural labour force and contribute up to 80% of the total food production and 100% of the processing in most regions.  Women further contribute most of the labour (70%) committed to the major crops produced in Cross River State”.  (World Bank 2003 study).

 Rural infrastructure development is a priority and prime mover to economic development.  Effective sustainability of the rural infrastructures through institutionalized capacity building and sensitization for project ownership of communities along the road corridors are essential to the serviceability of the road network.  The use of internationally approved Monitoring/Evaluation Indicators for analysis of the outcome or impacts with references to the set targets in the Project Results-Based Logical Framework matrix.

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