IDS Hosts Workshop on Transport and Social Exclusion

Date and time: 
Tue, 2018-07-10 11:56

The Institute for Development Studies (IDS), in collaboration with Volvo Research and Educational Foundations (VREF) International Network for Transport and Accessibility in Low Income Communities (INTALInC), hosted a workshop on transport and social exclusion in Kenyan cities.


The workshop, held in Nairobi on 20th June 2018, brought together stakeholders in transport and vulnerability to share findings of a scoping study covering Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu city counties. The focus was on how transport shapes the structures and processes which impede the vulnerable group’s accessibility to economic resources, social goods and the institutions which determine their destinies.

The workshop provided a platform to gather additional knowledge from participants on issues of vulnerable groups (the low income group, PWDs, women, children and the elderly) and transport and identified research and knowledge gaps for future engagement with policymakers.


Prof Karen Lukas, from Leeds University, provided an overview on “Global Perspective of Transport and Social Exclusion.” She observed that there is lack of access to transport in growing cities and people are becoming socially excluded; they cannot get to work, school, and health facilities, hence wasting a lot of time on the road.“In developing countries there are new projects and ideas coming up to solve issues but they are not meeting the needs of the most vulnerable groups like women, PWDs and children,” said Prof Lukas.

The researcher further observed that the poor and the vulnerable users of transport are not engaged when it comes to policy making. She called for the inclusion of the vulnerable in the society and urged global organizations to support initiatives against exclusion by looking at what they fund and what other organizations are doing.

Prof. Lukas said vulnerable groups are continually being pushed further away from the CBD to the periphery of the cities, pointing out that not all services are located within settlements of low income groups.

According to Prof. Winnie Mitullah and Dr. Romanus Opiyo, who led the scoping study, the concept of social exclusion is related to vulnerability, in particular poverty. Those excluded often lack a number of capacities, including employment and income. The researchers observed that social exclusion in the area of transport has been given minimal attention.


“In most developing countries, including Kenya, vulnerability is more visible than social exclusion in transport agenda. It is mentioned  in  policy  and  legislative  documents  though  with  minimal  implementation  of programmes addressing the challenges of the vulnerable groups in the transport sector,” the researchers noted.


Prof Mitullah provided an overview of the scoping study, noting that walking is the most dominant means of transport. She pointed out that PWDs are the most vulnerable, especially when crossing roads. They require crossing points which enable their mobility and also reduce walking distances. Persons with disabilities experience difficulties while embarking and disembarking from various modes of transport, including buses and ferries.

She further observed that patriarchy affects women in urban areas, including in the transport sector. Apart from women’s fulltime work, they also take care of children and the sick more than men.  Women are also more prone to abuses in the course of their duties.

However, it is not all gloom. The study revealed that men are beginning to take over women’s roles and responsibilities while employment opportunities for women are also being expanded. Example of cab hailing services, in particular Safaricom Little Cabs which is giving women employment opportunities as drivers,was highlighted.

According to the study, paratransit (matatus) modes of transport are reluctant to carry children.In most cases, the children wait for long before boarding a vehicle, especially during peak hours. This leads to delay in travel, including late arrival in schools and home. In Mombasa women prefer tuk-tuk, especially when travelling with their children, although there is inadequate infrastructure and facilities for tuk – tuk and motor cycles.

Prof. Mitullah appreciated the mention of vulnerable groups in Kenya policies and legislation. “It is good that policies in Kenya mention the issue of vulnerable groups, but the practical inclusion of these vulnerable groups is limited,” she observed.

Other speakers also made remarks on experiences of transport and social exclusion. The speakers were Hon. Mary Mwami (Transport and Infrastructure Committee Member, Nairobi City County Assembly), Martin Eshiwani (Ministry of Transport), Sharon Otira (NTSA), Rahab Mundara (UN-HABITAT) and Naomi Mwaura (ITDP).

Hon. Mwami noted that sometimes women are compelled to jump into moving vehicles since drivers fear arrest if they stop at undesignated places.  She also noted that drivers avoid carrying school children because they pay less and cause congestion.

According to Mr. Eshiwani, infrastructure in our cities does not help ease mobility of people. He, however, observed that there has been some progress, such as the training of transport marshals. He singled out Safcomcentre, which came up with an initiative of helping the vulnerable in high risk area crossroads.

Ms. Mundara pointed out that it should be the norm but not news when matatu crew help people with disabilities to board their vehicles. She said PWDs resort to taxi quite often and therefore pay more for transport even when they have motorized wheelchairs. “The fact that disabled people cannot easily go where they want means that they are excluded,” she noted.

Ms. Otira informed the participants that NTSA is working towards ensuring safety of all road users. She noted that the Authority’s Road Safety Unit has disaggregated accident data according to the number of males, females and children. She gave an example of the data captured in 2017, where 73% of people involved in accidents were men, 16% were women and 11% were children.

Ms. Mwaura shared the work of ITDP, noting that the organization is geared towards promoting equitable and sustainable transportation worldwide. She shared findings of Cairo’s gender sensitive BRT system and pointed out that the only solution is public transport, which is not just for those with lower incomes but for everybody.

The workshop was concluded with remarks from Prof. Olungah C. Owuor,
the Director, Institute of Anthropology,  Gender and African Studies, University of Nairobi. He identified with the issues of transport and social exclusion that were discussed during the workshop. “ As an anthropologist, most of the things discussed in this forum make sense to me,” he observed. He congratulated the Institute for Development Studies for  continued multi-disciplinary research.

`The scoping study falls among a number of studies IDS has conducted through the VREF supported African Centre for Public and Non Motorised Transport (ACET). Among others, outputs include a number of journal articles, conference papers, policy briefs and two books on paratransit and non-motorized transport published by Routledge.

Expiry Date: 
Wed, 2019-07-31 11:56

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