The need for road infrastructure arises from the fact that there is a greater need for accessibility and smooth movement of abundant agricultural products especially from the rural areas to the markets in urban centres. The improvement of transportation network in the rural area in this regard becomes imperative. This study was conducted to reveal the importance of development of road infrastructure as a panacea for socio-economic advancement in the rural areas. The study area was stratified into three zones i.e Ibiono Central, Ibiono Northern and Ibiono Southern. The Gamma index was used to determine the level of connectivity of each zone in relation to the distribution of socio-economic activity or services in the area. In analysis of the road network connectivity the gamma Index was used. The results indicate a low connectivity, index of 0.26 for zone A, 0.40 for zone B and 0.31 for zone C, in each of the three zones. This implies that there is poor accessibility, poor connectivity, which result in low level of socio-economic activity in the area. The analysis of the socio-economic development variables was carried out based on quality point assigned to the variables. Finally the correlation analysis was employed to determine the relationship between road infrastructure and socio-economic development. The correlation coefficient of 0.87 indicates a strong, positive relationship between road infrastructure and socio-economic activity. From the findings it is recommended that a major road that links all the zones should be constructed while, other roads should be expanded and tarred; new roads should be developed to improve accessibility. Greater community participation in road development and rehabilitation should be encouraged and a comprehensive transportation plan should be put in place at the local government level. It is hoped that this detailed research work will serve as a basis for the improvement and development of road infrastructure in rural areas which is a catalyst to rural transformation.
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
The need for rural roads and its resultant effect on the rural communities’ economy cannot be overstressed. This is because an extensive, adequate and efficient rural feeder road network serves as one of the channels for the collection and movement of goods and services, movement of people and dissemination of information. It helps in the exchange of rural productivity as well as strengthening the socio-economic, cultural and political fabrics and processes of the rural communities. In other words rural transport infrastructure provision forms an intrinsic part of rural development strategies, serving as a mechanism and catalyst for rural transformation through the reinforcement of rural development efforts (UNCHS, 1985, UNEP, 1986).
Indeed, the improvement of transportation, including rural roads, is said to form the most valuable aspect of rural development (Hodder, 1971; William, 1978). There are also negative consequences of rural transport provision which may, among others, manifest in the form of out migration of able bodied people to more economically buoyant areas, disruption of ecological balance of some ecosystems through road construction and overexploitation of some primary resources such as forest products and mineral resources. However, the advantages of rural roads provision more often than not outweigh its non-provision. Against this backdrop, one readily noticeable shortcoming of the over 90,000 rural communities in Nigeria is either the inadequate provision of physical infrastructure such as roads, electricity, water, marketing facilities and so on, or their outright neglect (4th National Development Plan p. 78). This situation is made more pathetic and worrisome because about 70 percent of the Nigerian populace, who are mainly farmers, reside in these rural communities (Fadayomi, 1988).
Thus, the inadequacy of motorable roads compounds the problem of transferring agricultural produce from farm gates to the market. This unpleasant situation, no doubt adversely affects rural economy and productivity because it can slow down or stall rural development and transformation.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Availability of transport infrastructure is expected to be one of the major objectives of any government. This is so because of its level of importance. This transport infrastructure sub-sector serves as a lubricant for efficiency of other sectors in an economy. Hence over the years, the unavailability of social and economic transport infrastructure has gone a long way to hinder the functioning of the other sectors of the economy as a whole. Industries facing global competiveness depend more and more on modern and efficient local transport infrastructure to enhance low transport cost and high quality services. Traditionally, the construction and operation of transport infrastructure facilities has been the exclusive domain of the public sector but in recent years, however, this has been the surge in the demand for private financing of infrastructure due to several factors: Lack of government financial resources to maintain appropriate levels of investment. New demand, both in terms of sophistication and broad spectrum of transport infrastructure services A decline in concessional and (both bilateral and multilateral) for transport infrastructure projects, and Dissatisfaction by the local population and industry with the level and services of existing transport infrastructure services which has been principally due to inefficient public sector administration.
The trend in transport infrastructure development has been very disappointing over the years especially when considering the standard of transport infrastructure services in the country. This raises concern about the measures taking by government to improve transport infrastructure provision. Unfortunately it is seen that concerned efforts made by the government to revitalize the transport infrastructure sector has been perceived not to enough. This problem has been lingering from time to time despite the various programmes taking by the government such as River Basin Development Authorities (RBDA), Nigerian Building and Road Research institute (NBRRI) is therefore the concern of this study to investigate into the limiting factors that affect infrastructure development in Ibeno Ibom. And also, to access the contribution of infrastructural development to economic growth in Ibeno Ibom.
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