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Urban Growth and its Implications on Road Transport Infrastructures in Limbe 1 Sub-Division, South West Region, Cameroon

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Issues of transport infrastructure, urban growth and urbanization with their necessary relationships have drawn much attention in recent years. In Limbe 1 sub-division (L1SD), observed population increase and urban expansion influenced by rapid urbanization have extensive ramification on the road transport infrastructures (deterioration, traffic congestion, road side friction, road accidents and increased transportation cost). Based on this premise, this study sought to assess the implications of urban growth on the road transport infrastructures in the Limbe I sub-division (L1SD), Cameroon. Data were obtained from both primary and secondary sources. Landsat EMT image files of the last 20 years were downloaded from Global Land Cover Facility website and the various bands for each year were modulated and corrected to reveal land use features using ENVI 4.3. Change detection analysis was performed through image referencing to get the urban expansion. The increase in built up area and population increase implied urban growth. The simple random sampling technique was used to question road users, road workers and traffic law enforcement agents while some stake holders too were interviewed. A total of 400 questionnaires were administered and 340 were successfully returned. The Chi square test was used to verify the research hypothesis. Findings indicated a continues increase in the built-up area from 8.33Km2 to 18.47Km2 of the 144Km2 total surface area and a population increase from 84,500 inhabitants to 193, 179 inhabitants over the 20 years under study. The results revealed that road transport infrastructures in Limbe suffer significantly from deterioration and that the deterioration of these infrastructures is significantly caused by the rapid population growth. The study recommends that the LCC/LIC should construct paid parking infrastructures and widen roads especially around Half mile.



1.0 Introduction

This chapter is a general overview of Urban growth and Road transport Infrastructure (RTI). It focuses on the background of the study, which links the study to other studies in Africa and the world at large. This chapter also states the research questions, the objectives, the hypotheses, the scope, the significance and the study area.

1.1 Background of the Study

Nowadays, one of the biggest problems in cities is the transportation system and its infrastructure. As the population increases, there is need for more road transport infrastructure and there is an economic impact when countries make an investment in this sector. Most of the studies on transport infrastructure, focus on its impact on growth. In the past two decades, the analytical literature has grown enormously, with studies carried out using different approaches, such as a production function. The majority of these studies found that transportation infrastructure has a positive effect on output, productivity and urban growth rate (Calderon & Serven, (2008)). The traditional model of cost-benefit assessment does not include the impact of development projects (De Rus, (2008)). In these studies, focused on development, we see that there is a bias towards economic rather than social goals. That is why it is important to emphasize the impact of urban growth on transport infrastructures while carrying out a detailed assessment of the available infrastructures.

Transport infrastructures are important in the growth and development of towns and cities all over the world. Transport plays a crucial role in urban development by providing access for people to education, markets, employment, recreation, health care and other key services. Humankind, nations, regions and the world would be severely limited in development without transportation, which is a key factor for urban development (Oyesiku, 2002). Transportation systems and urban growth are interdependent. Indeed, findings of earlier studies indicate compelling and consistent connections amongst them (Ewing and Cervero, 2001; Polzin, 2004). According to Bailey, et al (2008), road transportation is part of a distinct development pattern or road network and mostly described by regular street patterns as an indispensable factor of human existence, development and civilization. The road network coupled with increased transport investment result in changed levels of accessibility reflected through cost benefit, savings in travel time, and other benefits. These benefits are noticeable in increased catchment areas for services and facilities like shops, schools, offices, banks, and leisure activities.

Transportation infrastructure, including roads for automobiles and trucks, influence urban growth, facilitate economic development and drives economic activities in developed countries. These transportation infrastructures were part of the planning that occurred during the Industrial Revolution in the 19th and early 20th Centuries, a model that continues to this day in which transportation planning and urban growth are linked to the expected development objectives of a region (Rashidi & Samimi, 2012; Rostow, 1962). It is not surprising that a significant amount of literature supports a relationship between transportation infrastructure and a country’s growth (Lakshmanan, 2011).

There is implicit and explicit difference in economic and urban growth due to availability and presence of service infrastructure (Olga, 2003). This is justified because transport is an indispensable element of development and urban growth. As engines of urban integration, transport infrastructure and service facilities constitute a precondition for facilitating the movement of goods and persons. Long perceived as a tool for accessing national and regional development in a radically changing global environment, transport infrastructure remains a pillar of development with a view to accelerating urban growth and reducing poverty.

Most developing countries share a history of colonial government and are particularly at a disadvantaged position in their preparedness for urban growth with regard to transportation infrastructure systems, partly because the existing road transportation systems they must build on to get the best results are often out of step with modern development patterns and hence cannot accommodate the fast-growing population in their towns and cities. Rather than starting from the position of strength that would include a transportation infrastructure similar to that of colonial government nations, these former colonial countries including Cameroon inherited minimally developed roads that connect a few major towns and were designed mainly to facilitate the movement of commodities from regions of the colonies to points of shipment to the colonial nations (Njoh, 2012). Rural populations, commonly considered in developed countries as an important part or even a backbone of the economy, are left in the countryside of developing countries virtually disconnected from any meaningful economic participation (Njoh, 2012; Thomas, 2013; Usman, 2014).

Road transport infrastructure especially in cities of the developing world, enhanced mobility for the poor and vulnerable groups is one of the most important preconditions for achieving millennium development goals. Consequently, the population tends to increase in areas with expanding transportation networks, and increase less rapidly in areas without such improvements. Rapid and continued rise in population growth is expected in cities with transportation improvements (Goldberg, 1970).

UNESCO, (2007) stated that in the challenges of globalization, Africa is significantly lagging behind in development, particularly because of the lack of reliable and adequate transport infrastructure. Indeed, the existing transport facilities are completely outward-looking with the result that transport infrastructure and services have been little developed and the physical network poorly integrated. Thus, the idea of transportation and urban growth are interlinked. This is so because transportation is a derived demand that is driven by the needs and desires to attain some other final objective and thus as a development factor, it stimulates urbanization which in turn leads to urban growth (Kenneth and Samantha, 2008; as cited in Kalkidan, 2015).

In most developing economies like Cameroon, road transport is one of the most popular means of transportation and it is important in urban growth both at national and local levels. In the case of Cameroon, the physical and economic features as well as economic status of the population, make road transport the most viable mode of transportation. Road transport in Cameroon is the most prevalent mode of transportation for people, goods, and services from the point of origin to the desired destination with the sole benefit of time and value chain addition. Besides being a mode of transport, road transport infrastructures to the urban planner are very important as they beautify the town which is one aim of urban planning.

The road transportation system in Cameroon is as old as creation. During the 1900s under the British and French colonial rule, the road designed was to aid the transportation of goods from villages and hinterlands to the coastal regions for exportation as raw materials for their industries (Sheriff, 2009). However, with evolving economic development after independence in 1960, there was need for road system expansion with the main purpose of facilitating access to the different towns. The first major highway between Yaoundé and Douala was opened in 1985.The Encyclopaedia of nation shows that in 2002, Cameroon had about 80,932 km (50,340 mi) of roads, of which only 5,398 km (3,358 mi) were paved. According to official statistics, there are presently about 50,000 km of roads in Cameroon, of which 5,000 km are paved. 

The importance attached to the road sector was reflected in the “Cameroon Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper” as government cited the twin objectives of paving 17 percent of roads before 2020 and ensuring 100 percent rural accessibility. Different development plan documents have witnessed precision in allocation of resources. The question is then how has these translated into good road network in Cameroon judging from the observable and eye-catching evidence and facts. The presence of an adequate, reliable and efficient transport system is a critical factor in urban development. A well-developed transportation infrastructure provides adequate access to local communities, which in turn is a necessary condition for the efficient operation of manufacturing, retail, labour and housing market (Olubemehin, 2012). This can only be possible if the road infrastructure is in good standing to support movement of people, goods and services.

Roads in the L1SD as in other parts of the country have remained poor for reasons such as faulty designs, lack of drainage and very thin coatings, which is easily washed away, but most importantly, excessive use of the road network as the population of this sub division increases. This study therefore intends to establish the implications of urban growth on road transport infrastructures in the Limbe 1 Sub-Division (L1SD) with specific interest in the state, types, and functionality of such road transport infrastructure vis – a– vis the Kerbs, Culverts, Camber (cross slope), Traffic Lights, Road Signs, Road Marking, Media, Shoulder, Zebra, Round about (intersections), Bridges, and Pedestrian paths.

1.2 Problem Statement


1.3 Research Questions

Main research question: How has urban growth affected road transport infrastructure in Limbe 1 Sub-division.

The specific questions are:

  1. How has the Limbe 1Sub-division been growing over the last 20 years?
  2. What is the state of Road Transport Infrastructure in the Limbe 1 Sub-division?
  3. In what way has the rapid population growth of Limbe 1 Sub-division affected the road transport infrastructure?
  4. What are the planning strategies for sustainable transport infrastructure provision in Limbe 1 Sub-division?
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