Transport can be defined as the movement of people, animals, goods or services from one place to another. It provides a link between different parts of the country, region or world. People move from one place to another, either permanently or temporarily for various reasons. Main Types of Transport Main Types of Transport System at Global and East African Level

Types or modes of transport refer to the means by which people, goods, animals or services are moved from one location to another.

There are three broad modes of transport. These include:

1. Land transport: 
(i) Human transport
(ii) Animal transport
(iii) Road transport
(iv) Railway transport
(v) Pipeline transport

2. Air transport 
3. Water transport


Land transport is a kind of transport that takes place on land surface. Categories of land transport include the following:  
Human transport

Human transport or human portage is the transport of people and/or goods using human muscle power, in the form of walking, and running from one place to another.

Human transport
Human transport

Advantages of human transport

1. It is readily available all the time.
2. It is cheap and affordable than any other form of transport.
3. It is Safe than other means of transport
4. It is not affected by congestion.
5. Human transport does not pollute the environment

Disadvantages of human transport

1. It depends on the physical fitness of the person.
2. It is extremely slow and laborious.
3. This transport is only suitable for carrying light goods over short distances.

Animal transport

Refers to the means of transport where by animals are used for movement of people and goods. This form of transport is commonly used in areas where other means of transport are hard or difficult to use like camel is the animal used in desert for transport.

Road transport

Road transport is most common on land and reaches even the most remote areas. It involved the use of various vehicles such as motor cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles, bicycles, carts etc. It is one of the most important means of transport and is crucial to the development of commerce and industry. All the movement of goods begins and ultimately ends by making use of roads.

Road transport 
Road transport 

Advantages of road transport

1. Road transport requires much less capital investment as compared to other modes of transport such as railways and air transport.
2. It involves different types of vehicles and hence gives the person a wide freedom to choose the kind of transport to use.
3. Road transport is most suited for carrying goods and people to and from rural areas which are not served by rail, water or air transport.
4. It is more economic and quicker for carrying goods and people over short distances.
5. As compared to other modes of transport, the process of packing in motor transport is less complicated. Goods transported by motor transport require less packing or no packing in several cases.
6. If the goods are to be sent immediately or quickly, motor transport is more suited than the railways or water transport. Water transport is very slow. Also much time is wasted in booking the goods and taking delivery of the goods in case of railway and water transport.
7. Road transport is a feeder to other modes of transport. The railways, ships and airways. Goods are normally transported to and from airports, ports, or railway stations by road.
8. Roads can be constructed, developed or maintained while they continue to be used.

Disadvantages of road transport

The following are some of these limitations of road transport.
1. Motor transport is not as reliable as railway transport during rainy season
2. There are more chances of accidents.
3. It is unsuitable and costly for transporting heavy and bulky goods over long distances.
4. The speed of motor transport is comparatively slow and limited compared to air transport.
5. Goods transported by road face the risk of being stolen by robbers while on transit.
6. Motor vehicles emit gases which contribute to air pollution and noise pollution.
7. Road transport face the problem of congestion (traffic jam
8. The road transport is comparatively less organized. More often, it is irregular and unreliable. The rates charged for transportation are also variable and unequal.

Railway transport

This is a means of transport that helps people, goods or services to move from one place to another via rails and trains. In Tanzania we have the central line, formerly known as Tanganyika Railway, is the most important railway line in Tanzania. It runs west from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma on Lake Tanganyika via Dodoma. The TAZARA Railway, also known as the Uhuru Railway Railway, links the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania with the town of Kapiri Mposhi in Zambia’s Central Province.

Advantages of railway transport

1. It is least affected by weather conditions such as rain, fog, etc.
2. The railway transport is better organised than any other form of transport. It has fixed routes and schedules.
3. Its speed over long distances is more than any other mode of transport, except airways. 4. Railway transport is economical, quicker and best suited for carrying heavy and bulky goods over long distances.
5. It is a cheaper mode of transport as compared to other modes of transport.
6. Railway is the safety form of transport, there is low occurrence of accident.
7. The carrying capacity of the railways is extremely large.
8. It is not affected by the problem of congestion as is the case with road transport.
9. Trains making long distance travel quite comfortable as it have such facilities as cafes, bathrooms and sleeping space
10. Modern passenger trains called bullet trains are very fast and efficient. Travelling over 200 km/h, they cover long distances in a very short time.

Disadvantages of railway transport

1. The railway requires a large investment of capital and it takes a long time to construct.
2. Railway transport is inflexibility. Its routes and timings cannot be adjusted to individual requirements.
3. It involves much time and labour in booking and delivery of goods through railways as compared to road transport.
4. It is not suitable for transportation of perishable goods like milk, vegetables and meat as they can easily go bad while on transit
5. Railway transport is not economical for transporting people or few light goods over short distances.
6. Railway transport cannot benefit the rural people as there are very few or no railway stations to serve these areas.

Pipeline transport

Pipeline transport is the transportation of Liquid and gases goods through a pipe. Example The Tanzania Zambia Mafuta (TAZAMA) pipeline which runs from the port of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania to Ndola in Zambia, covering 1710 km, and the local Songogas pipeline from Songosongo to Dar es salaam.
Pipeline transport

Advantages of pipeline transport

1. It is not associated with environmental pollution.
2. Its flexible transport as it can pass through difficult terrains as well as under water.
3. It is not affected by congestion as is the case with road transport.
4. It needs very little maintenance.
5. Is not affected by adverse weather events such as floods, heavy rains, fog, etc.
6. Accidents and theft are greatly reduced compared to other form of transport.

Disadvantages of pipelines transport

1. Environmental pollution can occur if the pipeline leakages is not well maintained and repaired timely.
2. Pipelines are mainly convenient for transporting fluids.
3. Underground pipelines cannot be easily repaired and detection of leakage is also difficult.
4. Pipelines are expensive and they take a long time and intensive labour to build.
5. They have fixed carrying capacities which cannot be exceeded
6. Pipelines conveying flammable or explosive material, such as natural gas or oil, pose special safety concerns and there have been various accidents.


This is the movement of people, goods or services from one place to another through the air. It is the fastest mode of transport and involves the use of aircraft such as aeroplanes, helicopters and hot air balloons. Aviation is able to quickly transport people and limited amounts of cargo over longer distances, but incur high costs and energy use. For short distances or in inaccessible places, helicopters can be used.

Types of air transport There are two broad categories of air transport, namely, domestic and international.

Domestic air transport involves movement of people and goods within the country while international transport involves movement of people and goods from one country to another.


Advantages of air transport

1. It is the fastest mode of transport and most suitable mean where time is an important factor.
2. Travelling by air is comfortable especially over long distances.
3. Air transport is not affected by physical barriers such as mountains, forests, rivers, etc.
4. It is flexible since the routes and planes can be swapped when need arises.
5. The transport is scheduled, so there is no time wasting
6. It does not require huge capital investment in the construction and maintenance of surface track.
7. Air transport can be used to carry goods and people to the areas which are not accessible by other means of transport.
8. Air transport plays a very important role in the defence of a country. Modern wars have been fought mainly by aeroplanes.

Disadvantages of air transport

1. Air transport is controlled to a great extent by weather conditions. When storms, fog, mist, snow, heavy rain or any signs of unfavourable weather conditions are detected, take off of planes is delayed, routes changed or flights cancelled.
2. In case of accidents there is very little chance of survival.
3. Air transport is unsuitable for carrying cheap, bulky and heavy goods.
4. It requires a large amount of capital investment in the construction and maintenance of aeroplanes.
5. Training of the personnel in the aviation sector is a very expensive.
6. It is relatively inflexible as it only serves places that have airports and airstrips. except helicopter which can land in various areas.
7. Insecurity problems are also experienced in air transport. There are cases of hijacking and terrorist attacks.


Water transport is the movement of goods and people by means of a watercraft, such as a boat, ship or sailboat, over a body of water, such as a sea, ocean etc.

Water transport consists of:

1. Inland water transport and
2. Ocean and sea transport Inland water transport Most inland water transport takes place in lakes, navigable rivers and canals. Lakes that are major waterways in East Africa include Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Albert. Sea and ocean transport Sea transport enables countries and continents to connect with sea ports in all parts of the world.

Ocean transport is crucial for foreign trade. It has brought the different parts of the world closer and has knitted together all the nations of the world into one big world market. It is, obviously, the cheapest mode of transport.

Ocean transport includes:

(a) Coastal shipping
(b) Overseas shipping Coastal shipping This is one of the most important means of transport for carrying goods from one part to another in a country. It is a cheaper and quicker mode of transport and is most suitable for carrying heavy, bulky and cheap cargo like coal, iron ore, etc. to distant places. However, it can serve only limited areas. Overseas shipping This involves movement of goods and people from one country or continent to another country or continent.

Advantages of water transport

1. Water is a natural route which does not require any cost of construction and maintenance.
2. It is the most suitable means of transporting larger quantities of heavy and bulky goods such as coal, machinery, hardware and timber over long distances.
3. There is minimal congestion in water transport compared to road transport
4. There are minimal risks of accidents and breakdowns
5. It is suitable for transportation of fragile or breakable goods, such as glass, since there is very limited shaking and jolting on the waterways.
6. Water navigation facilities do not need frequent repairs and maintenance

Disadvantages of water transport

1. Water transport is very slow mode of transport
2. Rivers and canals cannot be operated for transportation throughout the year because of climatic change.
3. Modern shipping vessels are very expensive. Port construction, as well as purchase of loading and unloading machinery is also expensive.
4. Water transport system cannot be constructed anywhere. It can only be done in a limited area which is served by water bodies.
5. There is sometimes a problem of strong winds and storms, which greatly interfere with the shipping schedule.
6. Some water bodies are infested with dangerous animals such as hippopotamuses.

 The Importance of Transport in Tanzania and East Africa

1. It is Source of employment
2. Promotes trade and commerce:
3. Promotes unity and understanding
4. Facilitates exploitation of natural resources
5. Encourages the development of industries
6. Encourages development of settlements
7. Source of government revenue

Problems Facing Transportation in East Africa

1. Lack of capital:
2. Lack of skilled labour
3. High fuel costs
4. Political problems
5. Land lockedness
6. Impassable waterways
7. Thick vegetation
8. Rough terrain:
9. Differences in railway gauges
10. Corruption and embezzlement:

 Measures taken to address the problems of transport industry in Tanzania include the following: 

1. Formulation of policies and laws that promote the development of the transport industry.
2. Punishment to government officials involved in corruption scandals pertaining to embezzlement of funds allocated for construction of transport
3. The East African countries should build railway lines with the same gauges and trucks so as to ensure connectivity with all countries in the region.
4. The country should put more efforts on collection of revenue and seek assistance from donors to assist in infrastructure construction.
5. Training of manpower in various fields of transportation sector like pilots, cabin crew, mechanics, civil engineers etc
6. Keeping sufficient oil reserves in order to stay self with the effect of oil fluctuation
7. The advancement of science and technology


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