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1. ENSURING BASIC ACCESS FOR RURAL COMMUNITIES 1.1 The rationale for rural transport infrastructure improvement Poverty as we all know has many different causes and effects. Lack of income however is a primary cause of poverty. Income levels however, albeit important, are just one single cause. Less often it is noticed that a lack of access to basic goods and services is also a contributing factor, as well as a result, of poverty. Lack of market access and access to employment centers reduces income opportunities. Poor access to education leads to poorly educated people. Poor health is caused by a lack of access to (adequate) health services and lack of access to clean water. Access to information can help people in myriad ways, including a better understanding of the agricultural techniques, which can lead to increased productivity even in subsistence agriculture. Clearly, access to information alternatively contributes to improved education and to better health standards being applied. Precisely this lack of access to basic goods and services is still a major impediment for many people in many communities of our country. These poor communities are isolated not only in physical terms but also in terms of their access to employment, financial resources, skills and information. Since poverty has many different causes and effects, it can only be tackled in an integrated way. Different alternative options to attack poverty exist and could complement each other. One option is to ensure that the existing and future capital investments in rural infrastructure development, investments to improve accessibility, will maximize the impact on employment creation and poverty alleviation by optimizing the use of local resources including labour in the planning, design, implementation and maintenance of the rural infrastructure works. The World Bank Technical Paper no. 496 “Design and Appraisal of Rural Transport Infrastructure” highlights the recent renewed emphasis on assisting very poor populations through multi-component community-based sustained rural development. It further emphasizes the fact that an effective rural transport infrastructure (RTI) is an essential requirement for rural development, although by itself, it is not sufficient to guarantee success. Without adequate RTI, communities lack the necessary physical access for basic domestic chores, agricultural activities, social and economic services and job opportunities. Without reliable access to markets and productive resources, economic development stagnates, and poverty reduction cannot be sustained. Improvements of the intra- and near-village path and track network, and the provision of all-season basic motorized access are therefore essential conditions for rural development. Various studies have provided evidence that poverty is more pervasive in areas with no or unreliable (motorized) access—what are referred to as unconnected areas. Worldwide experience from past rural development programs and policies suggest that improving the poverty impact of RTI interventions requires attention to three guiding principles: • An emphasis on reliable, cost-effective access to as many of the rural population as possible, rather than high access standards for a few; • Cost-effective and innovative techniques such as spot improvement, labour-based approaches, and low-cost structures, and; • A decentralized and participatory approach with strong local government and community involvement in decision making on local transport investment and maintenance. The RTI network is the lowest level of the physical transport chain that connects the rural population, and therefore the majority of the poor, to markets and social services such as schools and health centers, potentially increasing their real income and improving their quality of life. The provision of basic access should be considered a basic human right, similar to the provision of basic health and basic education. 1.2 RTI and road safety The road safety concerns of basic access RTI are different than those for higher-level infrastructure. Typical are single-vehicle crashes and crashes between motorised and non-motorised vehicles, pedestrians and animals. Economic considerations will normally not allow separation of different modes of transport, and it must be accepted that foot and wheeled traffic of different speeds will intermingle in the traffic stream. The challenge is to ensure that the speed of motorized traffic is low, especially within villages. 1.3 The value of RTI improvement With about 69% of the population not economically active and a large percentage living below the official poverty line, Greater Tubatse Municipality is one of the poorest municipalities in the country, and economic development and poverty reduction are the overriding development priorities. According to the Limpopo Financial Report (2005) the increased value of platinum (on world markets) and the development of the Dilokong Corridor (for local development) are very important issues for the Province. The Dilokong Corridor development project is a top priority for Provincial Government. The value of Rural Transport Infrastructure improvement in this municipality, thus, lies in the following: • There will be significant positive social impacts due to improved access. These will include many sectors, including agriculture, industry, marketing, education and health. • The social benefits will be maximized by e.g. targeting construction work opportunities for local people. The upgrading programme will exploit opportunities to employ the poor, including disadvantaged women, in road construction and maintenance and in taking care of vegetation along road embankments. • The improvements to the rural infrastructure will lay the foundation for better economic opportunities and assist in poverty reduction. • The improvement of rural transport is essential to meet the needs of education and health services. • The upgrading programme may have four key components: o building stakeholder capacity and improving local governance o improving rural infrastructure o providing income generating activities for the rural poor, and o providing institutional support for effective management. • The programme will strengthen the capacity of local government • The programme will upgrade roads in poorer and less accessible districts to all-weather standards and construct culverts and bridges to remove barriers. • Improved roads and markets help to lower marketing and vehicle operating costs and improve overall access to public services and economic opportunities. The poor in particular benefit, because they are vulnerable to high prices and irregular availability of goods and services. • Upgraded roads also encourage private sector investment, especially in local trade and agro-processing. • A recent review showed that rural infrastructure development projects generated rural income, because 25% of the projects’ civil works costs were paid to locally hired unskilled labor. • Lessons learned on subproject identification, design, and implementation and on road safety and maintenance suggest that strong involvement by local stakeholders in planning and design will increase the usefulness, acceptance, and maintenance of rural infrastructure. • Participatory processes can also enhance poverty reduction and the sustainability of infrastructure benefits. 1.4 RTI approach and principles The overall goal of the Rural Transport Infrastructure upgrading strategy should be to increase the access of the rural population to employment opportunities and to economic and social goods and services through an effective provision of sustainable rural infrastructure. The immediate objective of this strategy would be to increase the use of local resources (labour and materials), planning on the basis of people’s needs and productive job opportunities through infrastructure development and maintenance. The aims of this strategy should be to develop appropriate institutional arrangements, effective management mechanisms and training approaches in order to introduce, promote and support labour-based planning, design, implementation and maintenance technologies in the infrastructure sectors. Therefore the following four instruments as depicted in the next figure should be used. These four fields represent the totality of the process of infrastructure provision from planning through to maintenance. As can be easily understood, this strategy is defined within a framework of employment creation, decentralization, the optimum use of local resources, a focus on local participation and the promotion of good governance. Also, the decentralization of responsibilities and authority, essential for local decision making and the development of good governance, is a key factor in the effort to mainstream the poverty alleviation strategies in rural infrastructure programmes. 1.4 Planning and selection of Rural Transport Infrastructure interventions The planning process: • must be top-down and bottom-up iteratively • must be centered on the “owner” of the infrastructure • most of all must be participative and transparent • must regard the selection of stakeholders for the participatory process as crucial • must use simple and transparent economic selection criteria to allow for participation • might consider other than just economic criteria. 1.5 The Basic Access Concept Basic access is one of the necessary conditions for the alleviation of poverty in rural areas of developing countries, at par with the provision of other "merit goods" such as basic health and basic education services. "Basic access" is defined as both, the availability of all-weather road access from villages to the main road network and reliable access to basic social and economic services on the intra- or near village track and path network on which trips are made mainly on foot or by non-motorized means of transport. In cases of rugged terrain, low affordability, and low provision of motorized transport services basic access might mean all-season access only by non-motorized means of transport. In order to provide as many poor rural dwellers as possible with basic access, and in view of the limited institutional and financial resources available for investments and upkeep of these networks, and furthermore considering the low (motorized) traffic levels, it is necessary to apply "least-cost" design approaches, that is minimizing total life-cycle costs for investment and maintenance. In most cases this will mean single-lane, simple design standard and spot-improved gravel and earth roads for the access to the villages, appropriate for the use of the prevailing rural transport vehicles, including non-motorized means of transport, allowing all-season access, but permitting interruptions during severe weather, and improved paths and provision of footbridges for the intra- and near village transport network. Basic Access, therefore,: • means reliable access at least cost • should be considered a human right • interventions are the least life-cycle cost investment for ensuring reliable all-season accessibility for the prevailing means of transport • provision could also mean improvement of the access for non- motorised means of transport. 1.6 Project ranking methods The following is a ranking method that could be used when prioritizing basic access road interventions: Cost effectiveness indicator of link = Cost of upgrading link to basic access standard Population served by link Why cost-effectiveness (and not cost-benefit) analysis? • At traffic levels <50 vpd the traditional economic tools (e.g. HDM) don’t work • Producer surplus method often leads to unrealistic results • Emphasis is increasingly on social benefits of roads which are difficult to quantify • Method has been traditionally applied for other rural infrastructure (wells, health centres) but not for roads. 1. IGH RISK SITES ON THE R37 5.1 Bothashoek T-junction to Praktiseer The problems experience at this T-junction are: Vehicles approaching from Burgersfort that wants to turn right have difficulty to do so due to the oncoming vehicles travelling at speeds in excess of 60km/h (the spped limit at this point). The absence of road signs indicating the speed limit contributes to this situation. Taxis stop in the passing lane on the 1.1.1 PEDESTRIAN COUNTS AT DILOKONG HOSPITAL Figure 1: Pedestrian counts site (1) Dilokong hospital intersection 21 June 2006 Figure 2: Pedestrian counts (1) at Dilokong hospital intersection: hourly intervals Figure 3: Public transport at the Dilokong hospital Pedestrian activities around the hospital (site 1) are high early in the morning between 6:00 and 7:00, when community members go to work. People seem to board their public transport in this area. 15:00 signals the afternoon pedestrian rush with people returning home. Figure 4: Pedestrian counts (2) at Dilokong hospital intersection, 21 June 2006 Figure 5: Pedestrian counts Dilokong hospital (2): hourly intervals Pedestrians seem to be concentrated early in the morning. Peak times for this site are between 6:00 and 7:00, 10:00 -11:00 and then again between 17:00 and 18:00. Figure6: Pedestrian counts (3) at Dilokong hospital intersection, 21 June 2006 Figure 7: Pedestrian counts Dilokong hospital (3): hourly intervals 1.1.2 PEDESTRIAN COUNTS AT BATAU HIGH Figure 8: Pedestrian counts on the R37 at Batau High School (1), 21 June 2006 Figure 9: Pedestrian counts Batau High School (1): hourly intervals Figure 10: Pedestrian counts on the R37 at Batau High School (2), 21 June 2006 Figure 11: Pedestrian counts at Batau High School (2): hourly intervals Pedestrian activities correlate with the school children arriving at and leaving from school in the morning and afternoons. It should be kept in mind that the learners were writing exams and when they finish they are allowed to go home. This might explain the 10:00 increase that is seen in the graph above. Figure 12: Pedestrian counts the R37 and Batau High School (3), 21 June 2006 Figure 13: Pedestrian counts at Batau High School: hourly intervals 1.2. VEHICLE VOLUMES The study conducted in 2003 by the Joint Development Trust falls mainly outside of the SANRAL community empowerment project, but considering the accident data and hazardous locations as they were identified by the community, it was thought useful to give an indication of the number and volumes of traffic on the R37 as well as the access routes and intersections crossing or joining the R37. Figure 14: Vehicle volumes (2003) at the Steelpoort and Burgersfort crossing Traffic volumes start to escalate between 9:00 and 11:00 in the morning, and then decrease again between 11:00 and 13:00. Vehicle volumes rise again between 15:00 and 18:00 with the highest number of vehicles recorded between 17:00 and 18:00. Figure 15: Vehicle volumes (2003) at the Bothashoek intersection Vehicle counts were done only at peak times. One would therefore just assume that the rest of the day is not as busy as the mornings and afternoons. Figure 16: Vehicle volumes (2003) at the Polokwane/Burgersfort intersection Traffic volumes are the highest in the morning between 6:00 and 8:00 and further escalates between 9:00 and 10:00, after which it decreases significantly. Afternoon traffic volumes restart again between 14:00 and 15:00 and reach a peak between 15:00 and 16:00. Figure 17: Vehicle volumes (2003) at the Modikwa mine Traffic volumes are the highest at this intersection between 6:00 and 7:00 in the morning and between 16:00 and 18:00 in the afternoon.
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