Alarmed by the worsening traffic jam in the country’s major commercial city caused mainly by lack of modern infrastructure, unplanned human settlement, the growing population and the surging number of vehicles, the Minister for Works, John Pombe Magufuli, wants a special metropolitan ministry to oversee the development of Dar’s infrastructure as well as development.
We, at The Guardian on Sunday sincerely agree with the proposal by the Minister, and call upon the President of the United Republic of Tanzania to take this as a challenge that should be implemented immediately to save our beloved city, Dar es Salaam.
On April 11, 2010, The Guardian on Sunday published an editorial headlined, “It was high time we saved Dar city”, in which among other things, we urged the government to introduce a special metropolitan ministry to oversee the development of Dar es Salaam as well as other major cities in Tanzania.
Following the proposal issued by the Minister Magufuli on Friday, during the official opening of the rehabilitated Mandela Road, we have decided to republish our Editorial, which was published in April, 2010. It was high time we saved Dar.
Driving a car in Dar es Salaam city is becoming an intolerably expensive undertaking for many dwellers as traffic jams continue to rock the country’s commercial metropolis.
The fate is shared by travellers who commute in outdated and overcrowded public service buses on a daily basis. The result of this is that we spend about five to six hours on the roads every day; motorists also spend about 40 percent of fuel on traffic jams.
While our policy makers might not see these statistics as a looming economic disaster to the city that hosts about 4 million people, as well as the country’s economy, the truth is that traffic jams in Dar es Salaam is a serious crisis that needs to be fully addressed. Just two years ago, the new Dar es Salaam Master Plan was released.
According to this Master Plan, upgrading Dar es Salaam roads, including building flyovers and dual carriage roads, would cost us about $3.5 billion.
The Master Plan also recommends the establishment of satellite cities in order to decongest Dar es Salaam. It also states clearly that planned human settlements should be a must in order to end the rampant unplanned buildings that have clouded three major cities, including Mwanza and Arusha.
But, the people are disappointed to see that none of our key policy makers seem to take the current situation seriously. Whenever our leaders comment on the situation, they do so with casualness which implies that it is not big enough a problem to warrant serious concern.
It’s a shame for a nation that will next year celebrate its golden jubilee since independence, to have dilapidated infrastructures that are only fit to accommodate those who lived in the early 1970s.
It’s unbelievable to see that most houses in the city centre as well as its outskirts have no planned sewage system; the situation become worse during the rainy season when some residents decide to discharge thousands of tonnes of human faeces on the streets as well as our roads, posing severe health hazards.
At the Julius Nyerere International Airport, things are also falling apart; basic infrastructure like air conditioners are not functioning at both passengers’ checking and arrival lounges, making life extremely tough to thousands of people who use this airport.
In a country that plans to attract millions of tourists, it’s a shame to have an airport of this calibre because apart from having dilapidated infrastructure, it’s also too small to handle a big number of international passengers should tourists decide to respond heavily to our international marketing campaigns.
Dar es Salaam is our sitting room as well as our major economic hub and therefore it should be rebranded by upgrading and modernising the dilapidated infrastructure.
If need be, this country should have a special ministry that should oversee the development and management of Dar es Salaam city, by borrowing a leaf from our Kenyan neighbours who have introduced a special ministry that oversees the development and management of Nairobi city, after the local government failed to perform its duty.
In our case, things are not moving smoothly in Dar es Salaam because even the city council has failed to supervise basic things like garbage collection, road and street cleaning, and many more.
Despite the huge revenue collections, Dar es Salaam city has remained the dirtiest city in Tanzania compared to places like Moshi and Mwanza, where the authorities have improved sanitation conditions to the highest and admirable standards.
It’s time to save Dar es Salaam. We are not too late to save this city, but should we fail to act on time, life in the Haven of Peace founded in 1862 by Sultan Seyyid Majid of Zanzibar on the site of the village of Mzizima, will be chaotic and disastrous.