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Rhetoric versus reality There is a perceived mismatch between the analysis of rural transport problems in developing countries and

d the implementation of solutions. Discuss and present innovative solutions for bridging this gap. The relationship between changes in the transport sector and the evolving pattern of economic development is widely discussed by transport economists. The importance of transport on economic growth and development is being identified. Thus, development of various forms of transport infrastructure has been undertaken to stimulate growth in slow growing countries investment especially in rural sector. Going to the history there are four main transport and logistics revolutions can be identified. Firstly the period from the 13th century in which water transport emerged as a new logistics system connecting cities along the rivers and costal areas. Secondly, the period from 16th century which is characterized by a dramatic improvement in sailing sea transport and by the introduction of new banking system which stimulated trade to the East and West Indies. Thirdly the period from the middle of 19th century, marked as industrial revolution, in which invention of the stream engine generated new transport modes. At last, the period from the 1970s which is marked as increased information and flexibility, just in time systems and material requirements, planning have evolved within this framework. Although the world trend in transport as such the development of rural transport sector in developing countries has not taken place yet at the pace of growth of rural sector in developed countries. Nevertheless the concentration of transport infrastructure and vehicle congestion in developing countries is now at the extreme. It is quite evident from the statistics of accidents and resulting fatalities. Although governments in developing countries have attempted to enhance the transport infrastructure in rural economies, the potential ability of transport has not contributed to the growth and development of the rural economies as expected. The inadequacy of transport facilities in rural areas of developing countries is the major bottleneck to socio economic development and a national integration. Lack of transport makes it is difficult to introduce other social infrastructure such as education and medical services and also the dissemination of the modern techniques and inputs of agriculture production and the link of agriculture to other sectors of the economy through the market hampered ,so the productivity of agriculture will necessarily be low. On the other hand economists argue that, though an excessive amount of scarce resources are devoted to transport development, the fruits of development has not been realized and distributed equally to all. Here there is a debate on which optimal provision of transport to facilitate development so that resources are not wasted by being drawn from other activities where they may be more productive. Transport investment is a major component of the capital formation of developing countries and expenditure on transport is usually the largest single item in the national budget. Along with national funds, outside agencies such as World Bank or indirect assistance from individual countries finance various transport projects. It is obvious that transport infrastructure is a factor input in to the production process permitting goods and people to be transported between and within the production and consumption centers, urban to rural / rural to urban: agro economy to money economy. Moreover transport improvements can shift production capacity by altering factor costs and reduces the level of inventory tied up in the production process. Since mobility is increased permitting factors of production especially, labour to be transferred to places where they may be employed productively, transport increases the welfare of individuals by extending the range of social facilities to them and also provides superior public goods such as greater social benefits and increased national defense. However current rural transport problems are not well addressed by the

implemented solutions so that most of the benefits expected from rural transport projects have not contributed the countryside development. Economists argue that appropriate transport planning can have more assistance on overall economic development. This implies that one should expand transport provision to balance developments else where in the economy, which is not always possible. If transport services are inadequate in a particular area, then bottlenecks in the economy will curtail the growth process but if the service is excessive in a particular area again there is a waste of resources. It is the outcome of many transport projects in many developing countries. Many developing countries have failed to ensure the balanced level of transport provision. Thus they tend to spend scarce development funds on prestige projects such as international air transport, to demonstrate visually the capacity to be seen as developed nations. In economics word, X efficiency is sacrificed for a modern image. Thus funds which could be used to improve the domestic rural transport are unproductively utilized. Rural transport in developing countries mainly consists of poor roads along with foot paths across valleys, if mountainous landscapes or dusty roads if flat terrain landscapes. By nature these does not provide proper mobility hence the terrains are confined and constrained to the development. Analysis of rural transport problems in developing countries in terms of mobility of factors of production and the produce, mainly agriculture output, explains the fact that the adequacy of infrastructure provision along with poor management of the existing transport infrastructure. Big picture shows that even there are sufficient funds allocated to the development, the maintenance of rural infrastructure has been inadequate. The main reason behind this is that there is no properly organized institution to take the responsibility with sheer efforts and dedication. Though there are institutions as such the political and institutional working environment in those organizations has been operating as constraints to perform their duties. Hence there must be centralized intellectual body independent from political pressure to implement solutions to the rural transport problems. The case in the agricultural commodity market in Sri Lanka shows how inefficient is the operation of rural transport network. Agricultural commodities produced in rural farms are often transported to few collection centers and redistribute them to other market places. In this process mainly from the beginning of the journey most of the produce is subjected to damage while transporting them from the farm to the road. This is mainly done with the help of the man power. Rural road network in most of the developing countries covers rural town centers not necessarily cater the areas where real production takes place, thereby making a huge waste of produce at the end of the distribution chain. Further rural roads are not properly maintained and often exist with damaged surfaces. Thus transporting produce to the centers further increases the wastage. Interestingly, the distribution chain adds value, with a premium covering the loss born by the distributor due to waste, to the produce at each of the stage making the output high priced when it reaches the market place. Accessibility has been a constraint when the conditions of rural road are concerned. Many rural areas have significant levels of poverty, and non-drivers often experience significant isolation. As a result, strategies that improve affordable transportation options for non-drivers can provide significant benefits. Rural transport provision is inadequate in most developing countries. Private transport services provide most of the transport services apart from the scheduled unreliable public transport modes which are operated by a transport body. Under such circumstances the rural commuter needs to be aware of the scheduled times and trip purpose is conditional upon the service provision of the mode. In most cases, as the conditions in rural roads have affected the technical failures in modes, the frequency of service

operation is well below the required and scheduled travel turns. Thus commuters have to walk or opt for any other unregulated public transport service by hiring it at a higher fare. This is most common scene in South Asia specially Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh where large number of three - wheelers operate as feeder services in semi urban and rural areas. Finding an effective solution to a problem in this nature is quite challenging. Authorities in response may implement a policy or a programme which ease the accessibility to rural areas, for instance redeveloping the road spending a million with the objective of facilitating the mobility and attracting transport providers. However the problem prevails unanswered since the solution does not work as expected. In the long run the road gets damaged due to no maintenance and the same solution may be applied. Instead the authorities must concern about the cost rural commuters pay for their transport desires under the operation of high fare unregulated modes. Hence those modes must be regulated with fare structure. In effect the passengers will benefit in the absence of public transport operators. In recent years many rural communities have lost public services, such as schools, market stores, medical centers, and banks, causing rural residents to travel further, and significantly reducing accessibility for non-drivers. Rural service reductions are often justified on efficiency grounds, but the cost effectiveness analysis often overlooks increased travel costs. For example, it may seem cost effective to consolidate several small schools into one larger school when only direct facility costs are considered, but not when the additional transportation costs to students and their families are considered. Therefore Rural Transport Demand Management strategies can therefore include ways of land use management to improve accessibility by clustering development into settlements, rather than dispersed throughout a rural area. This approach may increase transportation and housing affordability. Many rural communities do accommodate non - motorized travel well, due to inadequate facilities and increasing motor vehicle traffic volumes and speeds. A variety of commuter and cycling improvements can be implemented in rural communities. The incentives for such development are crucial. This improves transportation options, and allows villagers and visitors to enjoy healthy physical exercise. One of the burning issue rural commuter faces today is the unavailability of proper transit services when they returns from the work place using main modes available from the city centre. In such cases the commuter may spend a larger proportion of income than the income spent on the main service used. Rural communities can benefit from improved public transit service, including interregional bus and rail service, and local demand-response shuttle Services. Incentives for people who have the option of driving to use rural transit services when possible will increase demand, leading to further service improvements. Rural transport problems persist since solutions are applied inappropriately by local authorities. Local authorities who are responsible for the problem seems lenient and implementation of solution gets delayed partly due to institutional drawbacks and partly due to rigorous procedures involved in the process of getting the service of stakeholders. In Sri Lanka this is seen in the case of maintenance of rural roads under the provincial council. Maintenance contract is given to bidders by the provincial council and Bidder wining the contract will be the authority of implementing the work. The work undertaken by the bidder is not screen properly since the institutional set up facilitates the regulatory capture. Thus maintenance is not done up to the standard thereby leading to depreciate the infrastructure at a shorter period of time. However the rural communities again become the victims of weak infrastructure provision. There is no argument that other developing countries with the same institutional set up may have the same output as in the Sri Lankan case.

The solution to this kind of a problem lies there it self. Maintenance of transport infrastructure provides an economic rationale in the life span of that infrastructure. Continued maintenance at the end of the life time of infrastructure allows the asset to serve further years without any interruption to the transport services operate on it. However the critical case in this is the identifying the infrastructure exists at the end of the life time. For instance, if the demand to use a particular rural road, which is operating closer to the end of the life time, rises, this will lead to increase private cost suffered by transport operators and the existing users. Therefore some operators may cease the operation making the rural commuters immobile or unavailability of modes deviate commuters to use alternatives such as walking, cycling ( which have high travel time) or high fare Para - transits which incurred high cost for them. However in the long run it is needed to incur high capital cost of additional road maintenance so as to reduce these problems. But the cost of capital is far lesser than what it would have been if proper on time maintenance is done. Rural sector suffers from inadequacy of roads. In fact construction of more and more roads in rural habitats may cause negative externalities. Hence there is a debate over the appropriateness of transport infrastructure for rural sector. Constructing roads on even terrain may be effective and ease the mobility but it may not be the appropriate provision for hilly terrains. Land slides, soil erosion, loss of vegetation, farm lands and loss of scenery are the complaints against the transport development project. Taking in to account such challenges, it is high time for the authorities to look at sustainable efficient transport modes especially for high altitude terrains. It is quite interesting that some of the Asian countries, Nepal, Bhutan use Arial ropes for transporting the produce to town centers. The government of other countries can seek for assistance from relevant bodies to implement advanced Arial rope systems which are environmentally healthy and economically feasible, in hilly areas not only for transporting goods but also people. This can only be a practical solution if the implementation is properly organized with the participation of a community set up. An efficient rope system will provide farmers a better chance of sending their produce to the market with less wastage and at a cheaper cost. Therefore the producer will be able to obtain considerable return on the sale which in turn raise the levels of incomes.

Y.M.M.S. Bandara Department of Transport and Logistics Management University of Moratuwa Sri Lanka mahindab@uom.lk +94 71 351 36 91