Assessing Social Sustainability in Urban Road Transportation of Abuja, Nigeria

Ahijo, Tukur Mohammed (2022) Assessing Social Sustainability in Urban Road Transportation of Abuja, Nigeria. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The definition of a concept of Social Sustainability is challenging. It is one of three pillars of sustainability yet neglected by researchers due to the complexity of definition, application, and implementation. This study focuses on a neglected area of research – understanding a concept of Social Sustainability within the context of urban road transportation planning in Abuja, Nigeria. Abuja has a population of 776, 300 (2006 census) with a growth rate of 9%. The administrative region of Abuja – the Federal Capital Territory – has a population of 1,406,239. A survey in 2008 recorded an average daily passenger number for bus travel in the whole administrative region as just under 800,000. The city is facing issues of inadequate road transport infrastructure and facilities. Coupled with the increasing population and urbanisation, how are the authorities handling the various demands for the provision of this much-needed infrastructure and how this link to a concept of social sustainability for the city.

The research comprises semi-structured interview with 261 commuters, 4 Transport Unions operating in the city, and 4 government agencies handling transport and its related issues in the city. SPSS and NVivo software were used in the analysis of the gathered data. The results highlight the difficulties faced by commuters in accessing urban road transport, the quality of service, public engagement, and the decision-making process of the city’s road transport sector. A conceptual framework for social sustainability is presented, summarising the themes for social sustainability, as discussed with participants. Then, two priority areas of social sustainability for citizens are discussed – stakeholder engagement in decision-making and social inclusion. The findings from this study highlight the inadequate engagement between citizens and the government on matters that impact their daily lives. A practical framework for engaging stakeholders in the provision of urban road transportation in Abuja is proposed.

The study finds that understanding the needs and priorities of commuters and operators of road transport facilities, supported by the necessary numerical and factual data is important for establishing a sustainable transport system in Abuja. This should be a focus for Abuja and Nigerian policy planners and decision makers. The work also has implications for practitioners and scholars who are trying to implement social sustainability as part of transport planning in other developing nations, with their own distinct cultures, values, characteristics, and beliefs.

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