In a normal situation and driving at a normal speed of around 50 kilometres an hour, it should not take more than 20 minutes to drive from Julius Nyerere International airport to Dar es Salaam’s city centre.
But that drive on any working day or Saturday these days can take more than one hour, reflecting the seriousness of the problem of traffic congestion that is gripping the city.
No doubt it is also a reflection of the boom in business activities, but it also shows how we have not moved with the pace of that expansion and it is costing the nation dearly.
As we all know all major hotels, banks, wholesale and retail shops, government offices and most supermarkets, not mention the all famous Kariakoo market are located in the central business district.
A huge traffic flow thus ensues from the outlying residential areas as workers troop off to work in the city centre as early as 5.00 am.
There are also those who drive out from the outlying areas to deliver supplies to the shops and markets or to buy supplies, as well as trucks passing through to pick or deliver cargo at the Dar es Salaam port.
A similar traffic flow builds up in the late afternoon as workers troop back to their residential suburbs, but for some getting home as late as nine o’clock in the night is not unheard of.
The end result is a huge economic cost to the nation, which is struggling to improve the way it does business, to be able to make better use of its scarce resources and also attract more investors into the country.
Experts who have studied the problem with a view to resolving it have estimated that over 4bn/- in losses is incurred every day from traffic jams in Dar es Salaam.
Part of that inefficiency was observed by a stakeholder who noted that Dar es Salaam has more than 6,000 commuter buses, but they can only carry 43 per cent of the city dwellers leaving the rest to struggle with even more inefficient means to get where they want.
There is also the unseen cost. This is the human frustration of being trapped in queues for hours. This toll on emotions and its effects needs to be studied more closely in terms of costs and factored into the cost structure properly, if we are to appreciate the seriousness of the problem.
It is in appreciation of the seriousness of the problem that the government and other stakeholders have been taking measures to ease the congestion.
Much as there has been some improvement, more still needs to be done, if we are to see appreciable reduction in traffic jams.
The Institution of Engineers Tanzania has decided to take up the challenge of contributing a solution to the problem not only for Dar es Salaam, but also for all the other cities that are beginning to experience traffic jams.
It is our expectation that they will help the country by coming up with home-grown solutions to the problem which is undoubtedly a major contributor to the economic woes that the country is currently experiencing.