Trends in transport

  • Pipeline and containerization
  • Electric trains are replacing diesel engines
  • Underground tunnels for trains are being used to ease congestion on the surface
  • Dual-carriage roads are being developed in various parts to ease congestion and minimize accidents

  • Development of planes with larger carrying capacity and speed is a major feature in the transport industry
  • Use of bicycles commonly known as bodaboda are a common feature in towns, bus terminals and rural areas, supplementing other means of transport to ferry people and cargo to their destinations. The bicycles are being modified to make them more convenient. It is not unusual to find a bicycle (bodaboda) which has been fitted with facilities such as:
  • Motors to increase their speed and reduce energy applied by the cyclist.
  • Music systems to entertain passengers and More comfortable seats.

Motor cycles are also being used as bodabodas in various areas. Similarly, the three wheeled vehicles commonly known as ‘Tuk Tuk’ is a major feature in cities and most towns.

  • Private personal vehicles with less carrying capacity e.g. four-seater vehicles are being used as matatus. The vehicles are convenient to the passengers as they:
  • Fill up within a shorter time compared to larger vehicles
  • May accommodate each of the customers interests.
  • Passenger vehicles are being fitted with radios, music systems and videos to entertain customers as they travel. However, some forms of entertainment may not be conducive to all.


Factors that influence the choice of appropriate means of transport

  • Cost; The cost of transporting a good should be reasonable; except where other factors should be considered such as need for quick delivery. Otherwise should be proportional to the value of goods transported.

  • Nature of goods; The nature of goods should be considered when choosing a means of transport. For example, perishable goods require a fast means. Similarly, heavy and bulky goods require a means of transport convenient for such goods e.g. trains and ship.
  • Reliability; The means chosen should be able to deliver the goods to the required place at the right time and in the right form.
  • Urgency; For goods that are urgently required, the fastest means available should be chosen.
  • Safety and Security; The means chosen should ensure that the goods on transit are secure against loss, theft or physical damages.
  • Distance; Some means of transport are suitable for long distances while others are suitable for short distances. If goods are to be transported for long distances, air, sea or railway transport would be appropriate, otherwise roads would be suitable for short distances.

  • Availability of means; The means of transport to be selected should be based on its availability. For example, where there is only one means of transport, it would be the only one to be chosen.
  • Flexibility; This is the ability of means of transport to be manipulated to suit the convenience of the transporter. Where flexibility is required, then the means that would provide such should be chosen. For example a matatu is usually more flexible than an aeroplane.
  • Terminals; Some means of transport may have their terminals near the transporter than others. In this case, the transporter should choose the means whose terminals are conveniently accessible to facilitate loading and offloading of goods.
  • Value of goods to be transported- goods of high value require special handling and high security during transportation.


5 Solutions to Africa’s Transport and Communication problem

  • Trans-African highways: African countries have proposed to construct highways across the continent. These highways are intended to improve the quality and volume of international road traffic in Africa. The principal axis is supposed to be from Gaborone to Cairo and from Mombasa to Dakar.

  • International Railways: The presence of landlocked countries in Africa has made railway transport an attractive mode for transporting bulky raw materials to coastal seaports.
  • Regional Economic Co-operation: The establishment of regional economic organizations has created conditions favourable to increasing the quality and quantity of transportation between neighbouring states. Regional economic groups in Africa include the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and PTA among others.
  • Establishment of National Airways: Since the attainment of independence, every African country has established her own national carrier airline. Existing airports have been expanded e.g. Dar-es-Salaam, while international new ones have been established e.g. Jomo Kenyatta.

  • Establishment of ground satellite: African countries have been endeavouring to improve on the existing telecommunications. Several ground satellites and radio and television boosters have been established to ease out communication problems.



In order for a transport system to function efficiently it should have certain basic elements. These elements are:

  • Unit(S) of carriage
  • Methods of propulsion
  • Ways
  • Terminals(terminus)

Unit(S) of carriage

This refers to anything i.e. vessel that is used to transport goods and people from one place to another.

Units of carriage include: ships, trains, aeroplanes, motor vehicles, bicycles and carts. Units of carriage are also referred to as means of transport.

Methods of propulsion

This is the driving force (source of power) that makes a unit of carriage to move.The power for most vessels may be petroleum products, electricity, human force or animal power.


It refers to either the route or path passes by the vessel. The route can be on land, on water or through air. Examples of ways are roads, railways, paths, canals, seaways and airways. The ways can be classified into either natural ways or manmade ways.

  • Natural ways-As the name suggests, natural ways are the ways that are provided by nature. They are therefore free to acquire. They include airways and seaways.
  • Man-made ways-These are ways that are made available by human being. They include roads, canals and railways. Manmade ways are usually expensive to construct and maintain.

Terminals (terminuses)

The vessel used to carry goods and people starts from one destination and ends up at another. At these destinations the loading and off-loading take place respectively. The loading and off-loading places are referred to as terminals or terminus. Examples of terminuses are bus stations, airports and seaports.



Transport is the physical movement of people and goods from one place to another. It helps bridge the gap between producers and consumers hence creating place utility.     

Importance of Transport to Business

  • Bridging the gap between producers and consumers/ linking consumers to producers-Transport links consumers to producers which enable the consumers to obtain the goods they need.
  • Employment creation-Transport helps in solving unemployment problem by creating job opportunities. For example, people may be employed as drivers, pilots, mechanics and road constructors.
  • Promotes specialization-Transport enables people to specialize in jobs they are best at. For example; producers would concentrate in production only while other people carry out distribution.

  • Making goods and services more useful-Through transport goods are moved from a place where they are least required to a place where they are most required thereby making them more useful.
  • Improving people’s standard of living-It enables consumers to get a variety of goods and services thereby improving the standards of living.
  • Availing a wide market for products-It helps producers to widen the markets for their products by enabling them access to areas they would otherwise not have accessed
  • Increased production/ facilitates mass production-Due to the wider market created through transport, producers are able to increase the volume of goods produced.
  • Avoiding wastage-Transport makes it possible for surplus goods to be disposed of by taking them to areas where they are required. Perishable goods such as flowers, fruits and vegetables can also be transported fast hence minimizing/ avoiding wastage.

  • Promoting development of industries-Through transport, raw materials can be taken to manufacturing industries and also finished goods to the market. Similarly, it promotes development of service industries such as tourism.
  • Adds value to goods and services- creates utility in goods by moving them from the point of production to where they are needed thereby adding their value.
  • Leads to the opening of new markets- Goods and services can be taken to new areas with ease.
  • It facilitates the movement of labour- people can easily move from where they stay to where they work



  • Transport systems are responsible for many accidents in world leading to loss of lives. The Mtongwe ferry accident in Kenya claimed 257 lives in 1994; a plane crash in Ngong in 2012 killed the minister for internal security professor George Saitoti and six others.
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  • Transport is responsible for environmental pollution. Different forms of transport emit poisonous gases to the atmosphere. Oil –tankers cause oil spills in the sea s leading to marine pollution.
  • Unless they complement each other, different forms of transport are unreliable. For example, water and railway transport have to be complemented by road transport.
  • The growth of international terrorism has been attributed to transport network.


  • It has made local and international trade more efficient. Trade in perishable goods such as flowers and vegetables have been expanded thanks to air transport.
Photo by James Wheeler on

  • Population migration and settlement all over the world has been encouraged using the means of transport.
  • It has facilitated the quick transfer of technology and ideas as people interact
  • It has made industries more efficient. Raw materials, industrial workers, and manufactured goods are transported to their destinations cheaply and quickly.
  • It has promoted tourist industry which is a major foreign exchange earner in many countries. Accessibility to tourist attraction sites has greatly improved.
  • It has generated employment opportunities to many as road constructers, drivers, pilots and mechanics.
  • It contributes additional revenue to the government. Countries charge toll fee, license fee and fuel levy.
  • Air transport enhances space exploration.

  • Has contributed to the growth of the service sector like banking and insurance.
  • Transport has promoted humanitarian assistance particularly in disaster situations, e.g distribution of relief food, medical services and evacuations during catastrophes and wars.
  • It has led to growth of schools and hospitals and social amenities. In Kenya most schools and hospitals are located along transport routes.
  • It has led to agricultural development. Farmers have been able to increase food production since they can transport farm produce and inputs more efficiently and effectively.
  • It has stimulated the growth of urban centres. Towns such as London, Nairobi and Harare started off due to their location along transport roués. The towns have also grown due to their transport function.
  • Transport has enhanced political control in countries. National security has been enhanced due to accessibility of many areas of a nation.

  • Transport facilitated colonization of Africa and Asian countries. Railway systems helped them to conquer and suppress local resistances to facilitate easy administration