This research presents a novel method to assess the availability and geographic accessibility of Thusong Service Centres and Thusong Service Clusters in Limpopo province.
The distances that people in urban and rural areas travel to their nearest Thusong Service Centre or Cluster were compared. Accessibility in rural areas was optimised by identifying additional locations where accessibility was inadequate and where the establishment of additional Thusong Service Centres and Clusters could improve accessibility.
The novel method to measure geographic accessibility considers factors such as population size and density, as well as the availability of roads. Since rural areas in Limpopo province tend to have limited road infrastructure, people are likely to travel between settlements on unofficial trails and footpaths that are not mapped. To include an approximated representation of these trails and footpaths in the overall travel network, a triangular irregular network was created to connect rural settlements to each other, as well as to the road network. Natural barriers, such as mountain ranges and large rivers or dams were also considered.
Optimal locations were identified through different facility location procedures in a geographic information system. The objective was to identify the minimum number of additional locations for Service Centres that would maximise accessibility in the province.
Results emanating from this research indicate that accessibility to Thusong Service Centres and Clusters is uneven between urban and rural settlements. People in rural areas need to travel significantly further to their nearest Service Centre compared to those living in urban areas. In order to increase accessibility in rural areas and to achieve a more equitable distribution of Service Centres across the province, five optimal locations were identified.