Impact of Road Re-Alignment on Market Centres’ Development and Road Functionality: A Case Study of Nkubu – Thuchi Road in Imenti South District

The study seeks to find out the impact of road re-alignment on market centres' development and road functionality using a case study of Nkubu - Thuchi road in Imenti South District, in the Republic of Kenya. The study further seeks to find out how development of roads (particularly road re-alignments) and their functionality, and market centres' development affect each other, and how they may be planned to avoid conflicts and ensure their potential and functionality. The theoretical concept is that, a three-tier relationship exists between road re-alignment, market centres' development and road functionality, where; road functionality is a function of road re-alignment and market centres' development; and market centres' development is also a function of road re-alignment and road functionality.

The problems of Nkubu - Thuchi road re-alignment are mainly two fold. In the process of being paved in the mid 1980s, major re-alignments were made and some market centres were by-passed, resulting in loss of business. On the other hand, roadside developments have sprouted along the new highway re-alignment, subsequently affecting the functionality of the road.

The research methodology involved literature review, primary and secondary data collection, data analysis, interpretation and synthesis and subsequent recommendations to address short term mitigation measures and policy recommendations to address long term measures. For primary data collection, household questionnaires, road users' origin -destination (O-D) surveys, market centres' questionnaires and vehicle counts were carried out as well as interview schedules with key informants. Secondary data involved review of published and unpublished material, government reports, print media and the internet. Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS) and Microsoft Excel were the main computer packages used for data analysis.

The study findings show that the main adverse impacts of the re-alignment of Nkubu -Thuchi road on the originally existing market centres which were by-passed, are poor access roads leading from the "new" main road into the old market centres, poor service roads within the old centres, and business competition from the roadside developments. About 84% of the respondents operating in the old market centres said the roadside developments have affected their businesses negatively, and about 84% of the drivers interviewed said they do not like driving into the old market centres due to poor access roads and lack of business. However, 93% of the drivers responded that they would drive into the old market centres if the centres were well planned and developed with good roads.

On Road functionality, the main adverse impacts are roadside developments/businesses and increase in accidents. About 66% of the drivers interviewed preferred that the roadside businesses be moved and conducted further away from the road, while about 80% of the pedestrians interviewed said the greatest danger/risk while walking along the "new" road is fear of being run over by speeding motorists since there are no provisions for pedestrian walkways.

 Studies further revealed that, not only market centres and the road functionality were affected adversely, but also the local community, learning institutions and other institutions. Kaguru Farmers Training Institute for example had its land severed into two portions by the "new" road and today they have had to improvise a culvert as a tunnel to pass their animals and small farm tractors.

The study recommendations include provision of all-weather access and service roads into the old market centres, control of roadside developments and relocation of those that are operating on the road reserves, and provision of road furniture and pedestrian walkways (near the market centres).

As a policy recommendation, the study calls for integration of land use planning and road design engineering to ensure sustainable growth of market centres and efficient road functionality.

 

 

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