THE IMPACT OF COMMERCIAL LAND USE ON TRAFFIC FLOW IN MABANDA, DOUALA
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Every geographical region (continent, nation, state and local government), constitutes a system characterized by transport network. This research aims at examining the Impacts of Commercial activities on traffic flow in Mabanda, Douala IV municipality.
Primary data were obtained from the field through observation, questionnaire administration and personal interviews survey and secondary data were obtained from both published and unpublished sources and were analyzed using both descriptive and inferential statistical techniques.
Integrated methodological approach of data analysis, presentation and discussions were used. The data were analyzed using the Chi-square(X2). Findings revealed that commercial land use has a significant impact on traffic flow in the Douala IV municipality. These impacts were driven by socio-economic development, which has introduced a host of environmental problems including traffic congestion, high accidents rates, increase conflicts and high taxes as well as health challenges. Strategies for sustainable commercial land use/transportation planning were suggested such as eradication of on-street trading, adoption traffic management techniques such as road enhancement schemes, traffic signs, traffic warden, and vehicles parking regulations and control just to name a few.
Urban transportation problems remain one of the most nagging problems in urban transportation today. All over the world, steps have been taken to tackle the problems, but all to no avail, it only seem to get worse; these problems surface when cities expand without control due to increase in population from rural to urban centers(Aderamo, 2012). Various approaches have been taken to combat urban transportation problems. In ancient Rome for example, Julius Caesar once prohibited the movements of cars during day light to relieve traffic congestion on roads (Yago, 1983). Commercial areas in a city structure can take up to about 5% of the city’s land and it is used mainly for commercial activities, which are characterized by the effort of people providing goods and services and the patronage of costumers to the business vendors.
These activities ensure the functionality of the city and most often determines the growth of a city; examples of such businesses carried out includes; food items, boutiques, electronics and computer accessories, kitchen utensils, banks, bookshops, filling stations, financial establishments, and wide variety of services that are broadly classified as ‘’business’’. They provide jobs and bring money into the community. Generally, a significant proportion of those who find employment in the urban informal sector in the developing areas engage in the buying and selling of goods as the population of cities in those areas continues to grow (Churchill et al, 1976).
According to Okoko (2006), transportation can be defined as a process that involves the movement of commuters, goods and services from a given point of origin to a specific destination. However, transportation plays major a role in urban development and on city growth, being a major urban land element (Okoko, 2006). It promotes the development of various activities that foster its economic development, provides necessary pattern or road network and mostly described by regular street patterns as an indispensable factor of human existence, development and civilization.
Transportation and commercial land use planning decisions interact in most part of the world. Transport planning decisions affect commercial land use development, and commercial land use conditions affect transport activity. These relationships are complex, with various interactive effects. It is therefore important to understand them individually so as to support strategic goals (Litman, 2009).
The different land uses such as commercial land use, residential land use, recreational use, just to name a few, affect transport activity all over the world and transport activities such as vehicle ownership, vehicle travel (vehicle trips and vehicle miles of travel or VMT), mode share (the portion of trips by different modes), active transport (walking and cycling), can create planning issues such as traffic congestion, infrastructure costs, consumer costs, accident rates, physical fitness, and social equity. Different types of travel have different impacts on these issues. For example, because commuting tends to occur during peak periods, it contributes significantly to traffic congestion (Litman, 2018). For these reasons, it is important to properly organize the land uses. Land use patterns affect accessibility, people’s ability to reach desired services and activities, which affects mobility, the amount and type of travel activity (Duranton and Guerra 2016; Litman, 2003).
In Africa, different land use patterns have different accessibility features. Urban areas have more accessible land use and more diverse transport systems, but slower and more costly automobile travel. Suburban and rural areas have less accessible land use and fewer travel options but driving is faster and cheaper per mile (Owolabi, Babatunde Oluwaseyi, 2016). Numerous studies measure how commercial land use factors affect transport activity (Barla, Miranda Moreno and Lee-Gosselin, 2010; CARB, 2010 and 2011; Chatterton, et al.,2015; Ewing and Cervero, 2010; Guo and Gandavarapu, 2010; Kuzmyak, 2012; Mehaffy, 2015; Outwater, et al., 2014; ULI, 2010; USEPA, 2013; Vernez Moudon and Stewart, 2013, Outwater, et al., 2014). The California Smart-Growth Trip Generation Rates Study examined how Smart Growth policies affect trip generation rates and produced the Smart Growth Trip Generation Adjustment Tool which can be used to model these impacts (Handy, Shafizadeh and Schneider, 2013). The report, Research on Practical Approach for Urban Transport Planning by the Japan International Cooperation Agency includes detailed analysis of the geographic and demographic factors that affect urban travel in developing countries (JICA, 2011). Many land use factors overlap. For example, increased density tends to increase land use mix, transit accessibility and parking pricing, so analysis that only considers a single factor may exaggerate its effect (Stead and Marshall, 2001). On the other hand, research is often based on aggregate (city, county or regional) data, impacts are often found to be greater when evaluated at a finer scale. For example, although studies typically indicate just 10-20% differences in average per capita vehicle mileage between Smart Growth and sprawled cities, much greater differences can be found at the neighborhood scale. As Ewing, 1996 describes, “Urban design characteristics may appear insignificant when tested individually, but quite significant when combined into an overall ‘pedestrian-friendliness’ measure’’.
Because of the importance of commercial land use –transportation activity, many researchers have studied the effects of commercial land use on traffic flow in different part of Africa (particularly in Nigeria) (Wachs 1990; Mitchell and Rapkin 1954; Litman 2005; Phahlane et al, 2012).
Traditional planning between urban transportation and commercial land use has usually been conducted separately. It means that commercial land-use planning is done after transportation planning, which makes it difficult to give feedback and interact with each other (Xie et al., 2013).
Today most researchers emphasize that there should be a comprehensive view and integrated plan based on these relations and it leads to more sensible and effective plan for a given city (Givliano, 1988; Cervero, 2001; Litman, 2005; Rietveld et al, 2005). In this way, one of the important goals is to reduce and regulate traffic by using appropriate land-use planning. One of the ideas about the integration plan of transportation and commercial land use is that appropriate land use planning is a precondition for adopting the transport and mobility management policies that are much more effective at reducing the number of cars (Headicar, 2003).
In particular, the circulation effect of commercial land use and transportation is to be considered. Road transportation affects commercial land use and commercial land use affects transportation. As a result, it is important to coordinate transportation and commercial land use planning decisions because they are complementary rather than contradictory (Phahlane et al., 2012).
It seems that despite some new urban planning theories such as smart growth and new urbanism and their principles (mixed-land use, compact building design, walk able neighborhoods just to name a few) which consider urban traffic and aim to reduce vehicular traffic volume in cities, these theories have not considered thresholds and densities in their studies (Ibrahim, 2016). Since more construction can cause more traffic generation and attraction, it is necessary to investigate this phenomenon.
Land use is a basic determining factor for movement and activity. These activities are determined as a trip generation, which encourages infrastructure investment, such as spending on streets and bus systems. After adding such facilities to the system, accessibility of the area should be increased. This change in accessibility influences land use value and usage, then it affects trip generation and the processes continues until steady state conditions are provided (Khisty and Lall, 1990). In fact, the nature of commercial land use influences the source and nature of transportation and distribution processes. In the modeling and interaction, several approaches have been used and partially tested. They all require exact combinations with street structure. This phenomenon is what is happening in the city of Douala.
Douala is linked by rail to Yaoundé, Ngaoundere’, Kumba and Nkongsamba. Douala has a fairly developed road network compared to other cities in Cameroon. However many of the city’s roads have decayed due inadequate information, efforts have recently been made to renovate the city’s roads, especially in the most deprived neighborhoods.
In spite of the numerous domestic and international investments, the roads remain in deplorable state largely due to embezzlement and corruption. This state of the road coupled with the development of many commercial activities mostly carried out at the main junctions or roundabout has had an adverse effect on the city as traffic congestion is dominating the day in most part of the city. Most of the road in Douala IV municipality, especial rue’ de Marche’ Mabanda is generally characterized with many commercial activities such as on-street trading, hawking, commercial motorcycling just to name a few. These activities along the road have had an adverse effect on the free flow of circulation in the neighborhood.