Engr. Okongoh takes CR-RAMP to a new height

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A total sum of N20,325,026,766.44 billion has been expended on the construction of rural roads by the Cross River Rural Access and Mobility Project (CR-RAMP).
Project co-ordinator, Evangelist (Engr) Charles N. Okongoh, disclosed this recently during a press briefing with newsmen. The detail of his achievement so far is as follows:

The relationship between transport and poverty is always implicitly assumed in the need to create greater access to employment opportunities, educational and health facilities, agricultural development, social inclusion and networking. It is this cross sectoral nature that makes transport investment such a critical catalyst in the realization of the millennium development goals.
In 2009, an international consultant, roughant, Roughton international, was contracted to conduct baseline studies across the state. As part of their assignment, the consultant was required to recommend appropriate project monitoring indicators for future assessment of impact of the project on the socioeconomic life of the beneficiary communities. The prevailing condition for these indicators was documented in 2010, prior to the commencement of construction, the state project implementation unit (SPIU) of the CR_RAMP conducted a follow-up midterm survey in 2013 for some of these indicators to assess the current situation during construction and how they compare with the baseline.
The proceeding narrative shows how the project indicators are changing relative to the baseline situation (prior to the onset of construction) in communities situated along the RAMP road corridors. This change suggests that the project is playing a significant role in the effort by the state government on the one hand and the African development bank (ADB) on the other toward the achievement of the MDGs in the country.

The 2012 and 2013 figures represent average of taken on samples from all three senatorial districts of the state. However, all 2010 figures are derived from the Roughton international Baseline study report

REACH: 222 corridor Communities in 17 out of the LGAs of the State
Direct Beneficiaries Indirect Beneficiaries
Children 717,141 243,110
Females 357,853 121,312
Males 359,288 121,798
Women 269,960 91,605
Men 271,040 91,794
Sub Totals 1,258,141 426,509
Grand Total 1,684,650

1.0 Average travel time to major markets and urban centers by bus or commercial motocycles reduced.

Commuters in the rural areas are saving up to 3hrs 10mins on travel time to major markets and back. This is especially beneficial for women who are, most of the times, responsible for mobility is expected to empower women to take more control over their by increasing their access to markets, their exposure to education and information, their opportunities to participate in income generation activities, and community activities.
Farm produce can now arrive the markets in premium state thereby increasing their value and hence the going price. This translates into increased family income from sale of the produce. This extra discretionary cash can be used to improve other household needs such as child education, family nutrition and healthcare. This addresses MDGs 1, 2, 3,
2.0 Average travel speed increased on rehabilitated roads.
This indicator is similar to 1.0 above and also addresses MDGs 1, 2, and 3. Average speed on the roads has increased by 77%, from 10km/h to 43km/h. It has been demonstrated that long. Slow journeys act as a deterrent to healthcare seeking behavior because it enforces breaks in substance activities leading to loss of wages.
With reduced travel times and increased speeds on rehabilitated roads, there is prompt and easy access to adequate health services, getting to school in rural areas is costly in terms of time, energy and money. The increased speed on rehabilitated roads and reduced travel times, Dropout rates are expected to reduce; quality teaching staff can now be attracted and retained in rural schools as well, and the absorptive capacity of the children is increased or at least maintained.

3.0 Speed of evacuation of agricultural produce from the farm gate in the beneficiary communities to the access or link-roads.

Most of the RAMP roads traverse the agricultural fields of the benefitting communities. This has increased the average accessibility index (62%) in terms of location of farms from the link or access roads, thus reducing the time of evacuation of produce from an average of 7 to 2 days. This reduces post harvest losses and ensures that farmers make more money sailing higher quality commodities at higher values directly to markets (b) breaking the middle man monopoly). This effectively address MDG 1 of Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger.

4.0 Reductions in the size of post-harvest losses.

Like 3.0 above this CR-RAMP indicator addresses the MDG 1. Average Post harvest losses have dropped from 2010 levels of 30% down to 95 in 2013 – a 21% drop from the baseline levels recorded by roughton international. More produce are available to the farmer for sale and more income of the family and more food available for consumers.

5.0 Average (Bus or Okada) Vehicle operating costs (variable and fixed) per month.

An average gain of about N2000 per month has been recorded so far by vehicle owners from maintenance.
This raises an additional income of about N24,000 or 150 USD/year. A fair step toward raising families’ earnings above the 1 USD a day threshold thus, addressing MDG 1.

6.0 Unskilled day-Labour pay for Construction/Maintenance.
Unskilled day labour is yet to make a significant increase. However, this is expected to improve with progress in physical works. This will also contribute to MDG 1.

7.0 Access to Processing Equipment.

The average percentage of people with access to processing equipment has increased by 32% in 2013. As a result there is an observed increase in the number of cottage industries such as Garri and oil and processing mills, springing up along the road corridors as well as increased use of appropriate technology in Agro processing. This ensures that there is greater value added to agro produce thereby raising the earning of farmers and breaking the monopoly of agro produce traders. More earning means more income for the families and individuals and thus contributing to the reduction of poverty and creating food security (MDG 1). About 62% of.

8.0 Reduction in transport rate in rural communities.
An average household of approximately 4 PERSON (UN) amassing about 72km in travel time per week will saving about N504 per week or 2000 per month or N24, 000 annually. This flexible cash can be re-directed to other family need such as child education, improve family nutrition, better healthcare services etc. thus addressing MDGs 1-7.
To assess traffic volumes on RAMP roads, a daily traffic count (DTC) survey was carried out in August 2013. Average values of all vehicle types were found and thereafter converted to passenger car unit or equivalents (PCUs)1. It is interesting to know that the current survey took place at the rains and at about 55% completion of physical works. These factors should cause the PCU values to drop from pre-construction levels for tow reasons:
1. Motorcycle still constitute up to 72% vehicular composition on all RAMP road and with rains so high this year, movement of this transport type should significantly drop below pre-construction levels.
2. During construction, the roads are often rendered almost impassable due to clearing and earth works.
However, this study recorded a significant rise in volume of all transport types in spite of the amount of ongoing construction work. This underscores the important of the roads to the local people and also indicates the potential for higher traffic volumes when the roads are completed.
PCU are use to convert actual vehicular counts to all traffic types to a common scale in other follow for consistence comparison of average daily traffic types to a common scale in other to allow for consistence comparison of average Daily Traffic (ADT) throughout the road network. The vehicular weights used for conversation of actual vehicular count to PCHs where taking from those adopted by the (World Bank Technical Paper 496) and used by the SGI, the CR-RAMP supervising consultants who carried out the initial study during the design stage.
Farmers along the RAMP road corridors are having better deals for their agriculture produce as shown in the chart above. This has been made possible by increased road access to farms and markets, reduced transport cost to and from major markets, reduce post-harvest loses, increase access to processing equipment and appropriate technology, as well as easy access to farm inputs. A modest 57% of all farmers sampled have planes to expand the size for their current farmers by at least 50%.

Okongoh said the project has also increased agricultural activities and better market prices for produce, alleviated poverty and reduced rural-urban migration, among others.

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