SOCIAL CONTEXT OF BRT USE AMONG WOMEN Sociology Project Topics
The research study investigated “The Social Context of Bus Rapid Transit use among women in Lagos state”. Over the years, sustainable public transport has being viewed as not just a technical issues or questions, but as an inevitable need. This stemmed on the premise that, without adequate consideration of social benefits of public transport service sustainable development cannot be realized. Even at the introduction of the Bus Rapid Transits in Lagos, there are still some issues surrounding this transport system like queuing under the sun for quite a long time due to the number of people who wants to make use of the system.
The general objective of this research work was to examine to so the social context of Bus Rapid Transit BRT bus usage among women in Lagos State. Theories and research based on the socialization of female were used for this research such as Social Cognitive Theory and Radical feminism theory.
The study adopted a descriptive survey and made use of 400 questionnaire to carried out its research. The result of the findings showed that women viewed the existence of Bus Rapid Transit to be effective for their daily routine which has somewhat made them prefer Bus Rapid Transit to other public transport. It also reflected that there is a huge significant difference in the number of women that patronize Bus Rapid Transit at specific times of the day,
From the study, it was concluded that women view Bus Rapid Transit as a useful and valuable asset to their social, economic, family lives, from the conclusion the study recommended that; there is inadequate or low supply of BRT in the city of Lagos, influx of private vehicles and motorcycles for commercial purpose, reinforced the opportunities for criminal activities and the glaring population growth and importance of the city is in part responsible for the high demand for public transport in the city.
Keywords: Public transport, Sustainable transport, Bus Rapid Transit
1.1 BACKGROUND OF THE STUDY
Over the years, sustainable public transport has being viewed as not just a technical issues or questions, but as an inevitable need. This stemmed on the premise that, without adequate consideration of social benefits of public transport service sustainable development cannot be realized (Litman, 2008; Fujii; 2009; Sohail, 2005 and Enyedi, 2002). A sustainable transport system is one that, allows the basic access and development needs of individuals, companies and societies to be met safely; in a manner to be consistent with human and ecosystem health, and to promotes equality within and between successive generations; is affordable, operates fairly and efficiently, offers a choice of transport mode, and supports a competitive economy, as well as balanced regional development and limits emissions and waste within the planets ability to absorb them, uses renewable resources at or below their rates of generation, and uses non-renewable resources at or below the rates of development of renewable substitutes, while minimizing the impact on the use of land and the generation of noise”- (Centre for Sustainable Transportation, 2002)
In other words, sustainable transport cannot be said to be achieved if it is not coupled with an effective and efficient programme that enhances livelihood of people. Sequel to this discourse, there is need for improved transport infrastructural services as components required to achieve sustainable development. Interestingly, the significance of transport sector towards achieving sustainable development and as a component of sustainability has been stressed by scholars over the years. For instance, Owen, (1964), a renowned transport analyst, emphasized that “immobility perpetuates poverty”. This connotes that, transportation have a resultant effects on almost every human being especially women in the course of their daily activities. Thus, it is rare to conceive a situation over space where transportation does not play a notable role in the life of any individual or society at large. Similar to this view, is the assertion of Geerlings, Van and Ongkittikul (2005), that “the issue of transport is partly a derived effect of the fulfilling of all sorts of needs, varying from economic needs to social needs whi.ch is our main focus”. This justified the fact that, transportation is a “derived demand” and there is “no escape from transport”.
Sustainable transport system according to Centre for Sustainable Transportation, (2002) forms a basic foundation that facilitates movement of goods and services in the present generation and capable to take care of incoming generations. In other words, it should be affordable, efficient, available, safe, and supports economic development. In recent time, passionate interest is being given to transportation and gender (women) as a vital element of sustainable development (Loukaitou-Siders, 2008; TRB; Anand and Tiwari 2006).
Lagos is a notable city in South West of Nigeria; covering about 335,000 ha (3,350sq.km), it occupies about 0.4 % land area of Nigeria’s total land area.
However, relatively close to 608km or 17% out of the state’s land area is covered by rivers or water bodies. Lagos is a promising commercial centre of Nigeria. It has a population of 9.1million (NPC, 2006), and it is the major urban agglomeration state in the country. Also, it accommodates virtually all tribes of the country and often refers to as a heterogeneous city.
Surprisingly, and despite the important roles of the state to the economic development of the country at large, the state due to an array of reasons could not provide sustainable transportation services to commensurate with the rate of population growth. Public transport in Lagos is witnessing a relatively drawback because of the increasing demand for public transport services that outrage the supply and inadequate transport management in terms of policy framework among others. Public transport problems according to scholars over the years can be traced to rapid industrialization, unguided urbanization, collapsing infrastructure, inadequate supply and galloping demand.
Apart from these, transportation in Lagos is frustrating due to series of transport externalities that ranges from congestion, discharge of ambient air pollution and accidents etc. Inefficient, unaffordable, inaccessible unreliable and unsafe, crimes are disturbing issues grossly affecting public transport service in most Nigerian cities, particularly Lagos. The notable effects of these situations are; overcrowding, prolong travel and waiting time among others.
Most recently, Bus Rapid Transit System was introduced by the Lagos State Government to motivate people towards the use of public transport. An effective public transportation system in fast growing cities of the global south such as Lagos may offer a potentially cost effective form of climate change mitigation whilst also contributing to socio-economic livelihoods and the physical and mental wellbeing. Before 2008, Lagos was the only megacity in Africa without any form of organised public transport. Due to the scale of this challenge, an effective transportation system that can achieve the multiple objectives of efficiency, affordability and sustainability had to be introduced.
The Lagos Urban Transport Project (LUTP) popularly known as the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project was launched in 2008 by the Lagos state Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA). It is a scheme launched to tackle traffic and transportation problems in the city of Lagos. Since the early 2000s, moving around Lagos for commuters was a serious challenge because, by the turn of the century, Lagos had become the sixth largest and one of the fastest growing cities in the world, struggling with an unreliable public transportation system. Lagosians relied for their mobility on a fleet of about 75,000 privately-operated ‘danfo’ (minibuses), together with a smaller numbers of midi-buses called ‘molue’ and ‘kabu-kabu’ (taxis) run mostly by individual operators. With close to sixteen million bus trips made daily in the city, traffic congestion is rife and public transport often costs commuters over 30 percent of their disposable income. A lack of planning and management capacity contributed to the poor level of urban transport services. The Lagos Urban Transport Project (LUTP) was designed with the objective to enhance the efficiency of the transport network in such a way that it contributes measurably to poverty reduction, and to sustainably improve the sector’s management capacity.
The flagship project was the Lagos Bus Rapid Transit BRT service. It was introduced as a bus-based mass transit system that delivers a fast, comfortable and cost-effective service. Through the provision of exclusive right-of-way lanes and excellence in customer service, BRT essentially emulates the performance and amenity characteristics of a modern rail-based transit system, but at a fraction of the cost.
In the last five years of operations, the BRT system has moved more than 400 million passengers. The Lagos Urban Transport Project LUTP Following the huge success of the first phase of the project concrete plans are in place to extend the project along 8 new corridors in the state in few years time.
Cities all over the world are characterized with high level of accumulation and concentration of social and economic activities and are complex spatial structures that are supported by transport systems. In Nigeria, there is a great predominance of buses over rail-based technologies in the provision of transit services. The operation of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is mostly private, with fares covering vehicle capital and operating costs. As cities attempt to address their social problems ranging from traffic congestion to road safety and environmental issues, the alternative transportation options have grown in recent years to include Bus Rapid Transit System which combines the most popular features of rail with the flexibility and cost advantages of roadway transit. Hence, in a bid to tackle such problems, the Lagos State Government introduced the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) through private partnership.
The difference between a bus system and Bus Rapid Transit BRT is that, Bus Rapid Transit BRT operates longer buses on dedicated bus lanes thereby making passengers get a regular, faster and congestion-free drive. It is pertinent to stress here that, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has been adjudged by transport planners and policy makers all over the world at providing quality urban transportation services as it will help in tackling the huge public transport and pollution predicaments that besiege the city, thereby, enhancing good transportation quality and an improvement in the standard of living of the commuters. Moreso, Bus Rapid Transit BRT system is a relatively new mode of public transit in Lagos, and despite a gap in literature and a lack of documented case studies on transit impact, the emergence of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) has provided a unique opportunity to change negative perceptions regarding public transit in Lagos State. A significant advantage of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) over regular bus service is that Bus Rapid Transit BRT vehicles can carry more passengers than an ordinary bus. Also marketing campaign for Bus Rapid Transit BRT has helped to detach itself from the common stigmatism of “dirty, bumpy” buses, and is beginning to pay off with increases in ridership in Lagos Metropolis.
Women constitute an important proportion of the general population in the World. In most developing countries like Nigeria, gender dimensions of transportation planning and management have been one of the least considered aspects of urban transportation and development. Harassment, sexual assault and loss of property are huge threat faced by women when using public transportation and transport infrastructure in cities. Hundreds of thousands of women in Nigeria cities and other developing countries lack reasonable access to adequate supply of safe public transportation services (Odufuwa, 2007; Oyesiku, et al; 2002; Lynch, et al; 1988). The problem manifest in countless cities in Nigeria, literature shows that, most Third World cities in regards to public transportation offer little or no perspectives for women (Fernando, et al; 2002; World Bank, 2001 and Transport Research Board, 2006), and the general quality of life of women is substantially lower than the general population (Adereti, 2005 and Rakodi, et al; 2002). However, getting to have the knowledge of this transport system, it is in the light of this that the study will examine the social context of usage BRT among women in Lagos metropolis.
1.2 STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
There are various types of activities in Nigeria that surrounds its public transport over the years which has somewhat become a disturbing issue to users and non-users. This have gone beyond local or national discourse, as International community’s keep given warning notifications about the transport services in Nigerian public. For instance, the Times International of London, (1985) commented on the alarming rate of criminal activities in Nigeria. While, the Travel Warning United States Department of Bureau of Consular Affairs also gives warning statements about the insecurity of public transport in the country, particularly for the foreigners. For example, travelers were warned to avoid night travel, and about poor modes of public transport and infrastructure and driving conditions. More dishearten, is the fact that; the international community’s ascertained the fact that Nigerian public transport service poses risks simply because of the poor infrastructure put in place and also to mention activities that usually take place when using public transport service.
Even at the introduction of the Bus Rapid Transits in Lagos, there are still some issues sounding this transport system like queuing under the sun for quite a long time due to the number of people who wants to make use of the system. Issues like physical assault, sexual harassment, pick-pocketing etc, not forgetting the number of people that will get to work late because of Bus Rapid Transit BRT in recent time have dominated an array of debates involving a number of people to beginning to think twice as to which transport is the best. It has become a daily rhythm to people especially women who are the majority users of public transportation to be helpless in the face of various ordeals that comes when using public transportation in Lagos.
These problems have being on the increase in Lagos like other developing countries cities during the last few years.
1.3 RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions have been raised to guide the study.
i. Do women view the existence of Bus Rapid Transit as effectiveness for their daily routine?
ii. Is there any difference in the number of women that patronize Bus Rapid Transit at specific times of the day?
iii. What purposes does Bus Rapid Transit serve to women in Lagos state?
iv. Does the use of Bus Rapid Transit affect the family responsibilities of women in Lagos state?
1.4 OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The general objective of this research work is to examine the social context of Bus Rapid Transit BRT bus usage among women in Lagos State. Other specific objectives are:
i. To know women’s view on the existence of Bus Rapid Transit and it effectiveness on their daily routine.
ii. To determine the difference in the number of women that patronize Bus Rapid Transit at specific times of the day.
iii. To determine the purposes Bus Rapid Transit serve to women in Lagos state
iv. To determine the use of Bus Rapid Transit and how it affects the family responsibilities of women in Lagos state.
v. To recommend appropriate measures if any to be taken in improving Bus Rapid Transit usage in Lagos.
1.5 JUSTIFICATION OF THE STUDY
The major reason behind this study is to examine the social context of Bus Rapid Transit BRT usage among women in Lagos state. Several authors have critically examined the impact, social-economic impact, merits and demerits of the Bus Rapid Transit BRT in Lagos but very few examine it research from the women perceptive like the safety or stress faced by women when using public transport in the country, and the effect of transport system towards meeting the women’s needs as they go about their daily lives.
In recent past, transport planners and policy makers globally observed the differences in travel patterns of women and men. In other words, studies have focused on travel pattern of women (Porter, 2008; Sicat, 2007; Asiyanbola, 2007; Odufuwa, 2007); and it has been widely recognized that, women have a “triple role”. This includes reproductive work to maintain the labour force and productive work for the generation of income, for instance, involvement in informal enterprises (Moser, 1981; Roldan, 1985 and Afshar, 1985), and also community management.
Therefore, this research is capable of use for future studies, and might even generate further research, as it is expected to stimulate curious mind and expand knowledge on the research topic. This will enable one to contribute to knowledge and possible make an extension to the knowledge that already exists.
1.6 SCOPE OF THE STUDY
The scope of this research will be centered to the women in Alimosho local Government Area of Lagos State in other to understand the social context of Bus Rapid Transits BRT usage among the women of the area. Hence men will not be considered.
1.7 DEFINITION OF TERMS
Public transport: a shared passanger transport service which is available for use by the general public, as distinct from modes such as taxicab, carpooling or hired buses which are not shared by strangers without private arrangement.
Sustainable transport: it is means of allowing the basic access and development needs of people to be met safely and promotes equity within and between successive generations.
Policy makers: those involved in the formulation of instructions/guidelines that people should live in.
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