Road users perception of outdoor advertisements in Lusaka
Muvombo, Muchimba Maggie
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Outdoor advertising is a key element of industry and contributes to the creation of a vibrant and competitive economy. Lusaka city has experienced rapid increase in outdoor advertisements especially on major roads. However, the Council faces challenges associated with failure to regulate outdoor advertising which compromises the safety of road users and the city’s aesthetics. This study sought to examine the state of outdoor advertising, road user perceptions of outdoor advertisements and existing legislation, in relation to road safety and aesthetics in Lusaka City. A case study was undertaken on three major roads (Great East Road, Independence Avenue and Addis Abba drive) in the city. Three control areas (Mtendere market, Chelstone market and the Central Business District) were also used. Data was collected through direct observations, in-depth interviews with six key informants (Council, road sector agencies and outdoor advertising companies) and questionnaires with 155 road users. Secondary data from relevant policy documents, plans and legislation was reviewed. The data was analysed through quantitative and qualitative methods using descriptive statistics and content analysis respectively. Findings show that the state and nature of outdoor advertising on the selected roads was characterised by clutter and outdoor advertisements that do not conform to the regulations. The cluttering was prominent along Great East Road and Addis Abba drive with outdoor advertisements distributed between five to twelve metres apart, below the recommended 20 metres. There are fewer (six) electronic signs compared to the 325 static advertisements. The majority (80 percent) of small format advertisements were above the stipulated size of two square metres and were mounted less than the recommended two metres height from the ground. Perceptions of outdoor advertisement by various categories of road users revealed that more than half (59 percent) were inconvenienced by them. The obstruction and distraction by outdoor advertisements was cited as the major inconvenience by almost two thirds (64 percent) of road users. Almost half (48 percent) of non-motorized road users agreed to almost being hit by vehicles due to obstruction and/or distraction by outdoor advertisements. About a third (30 percent) of motorists agreed to having experienced near accidents/road mishaps due to advertisements distraction. Half of the respondents perceived outdoor advertisement as reducing the aesthetics and taking away the sense of place from Lusaka city. The Council has no outdoor advertising policy and no provision for it in the city’s development plan resulting in enforcement challenges. The study concludes that there is a gap in the existing legislation guiding outdoor advertising and policy to implement the regulations. In addition, there is low compliance to regulations by stakeholders and lack of enforcement by the Council. The study recommends the formulation of an outdoor advertising policy to ensure enforceable regulations that integrate public road safety and the city’s aesthetics.
The University of Zambia