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Grappling with road congestion, safety in our urban centres

6th September 2012
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Tanzania is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of vehicles on roads

Tanzania is benefiting from market expansion on all levels, both within the local and international markets. Increased markets show more spending power by the people and a marked growth in our middle class.

With this boost in economic growth, households are earning more disposable income. A lot of us are enjoying the fruits of our labour and purchasing power by investing in properties, commodities and market shares. This brings us to the problem we seem to have at hand - road congestion and safety.
Our nation is experiencing a dramatic increase in the number of vehicles on the roads. Have you taken time out to observe our roads? We are seriously lacking in the infrastructure and road safety departments.

When is the last time you have driven on a road not filled with potholes the size of a small crater - wide enough to swallow your car? How about the make lanes, and non existent traffic lights. As drivers we also do not show common road courtesy, to say the least everyone seems to be on a defense driving state of mind. It is utter chaos on our roads.
All these are contributing factors to the increased road fatalities we see today.

If our country is to continue to grow economically could we please not do it at the expense of our lives? It is obvious that we are going to continue to purchase more cars, the question now is what steps can be taken to reduce congestion and increase road safety? Surveys reveal that though road deaths outpace AIDS, malaria, TB and drought more attention and funding is paid to the latter problems.

Majority of our roads are sand laden and potholes are repaired with huge rocks. Our motorways have no definitions - at times one does not know where the road ends or begins. Furthermore, they are without designated areas for pedestrians, cyclists and motorcycles.

Most of the vehicles on our roads, most especially public transport daladalas are poorly maintained and commuters are packed like sardines. They also lack the proper safety features such as fire extinguishers etc. Our street lamps are non existent and traffic lights - well I am still scratching my head on our traffic lights system, how do they work? Do you know? When they are on, no one pays attention to them, green, orange, red all mean “go” to some drivers. Total confusion. Where are the speed limits?

The argument that is so tiring and sickening to hear is “ this is Africa”. Humm, so in Africa we are to let our children, people suffer or die just because? We really have to get out of this mentality - “gods will” or this is Africa!!!
We use to lay the blame on chains/slavery and not having the means to govern ourselves, now we lay the blame somewhere else. Here is a novel idea, how about we acknowledge our shortcomings and make a considerable effort to rectify them and make our country safer for the future generation?

It is easy to lay blame on our government, let us understand that everyone has a hand in road safety. All hands have to be on deck in this situation. We are aware of the issues. Let us take the initial steps to combat this matter. Take the initiative, go out teach the children the basic safety laws - crossing the street guidelines etc. Drivers show some road courtesy, maintain your cars, drive at a safe speed, most importantly actually go and get your drivers license test and do not just buy them!

There has to be a balance between our economic growth and adequate infrastructure needed to support consumer spending. The government should implement traffic laws that must be strictly adhered to, educate the public on road safety and traffic rules, and our roads need work because they are literally non existent! Drive safe folks.

aikadmn@gmail.com

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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