Soon Dar es Salaam will have postcodes on street names following directives by President Jakaya Kikwete, who has told mayors of the city’s municipalities and executive directors to properly realign and name them accordingly.
The president issued the directive this week during a ceremony at which he gave individual addresses and postcode numbers, a new project by the Tanzania Communication Regulatory Authority (TCRA).
The head of state said that street names and house numbers were key to the country’s development effort, but maintained that most people do not give them the importance they deserve. He says he personally bought a plot at Tegeta in 1988 – but still doesn’t know the name of the street on which his plot is located. That is how serious it can get!
The postcode method may be new to most city residents and elsewhere in the country, but it is a system applied in most developed countries to signpost people’s physical addresses. In a city such as Dar es Salaam, residents need more elaborate signposts than street names.
As we get more literate, people will require newspaper drops at home, for instance. Even more importantly, however, we need street codes and names for sheer accessibility. How we tell the precise location of individuals will also give us details of our national identity.
In this case, the government seeks to implement the postcode project in order to meet international standards -- of identifying places through appropriate technologies.
Street names facilitate tourism and other business activities, and we join the president in congratulating the Minister for Lands and Human Settlements Development, Prof. Anna Tibaijuka for her appointment as special envoy for the postcode project in Africa by the World Postal Union.
Needless to say, the minister is a well known human settlements figure, having served as the chief executive of the United Nations Settlements Development agency, Habitat, in Nairobi, Kenya. It was during her tenure that the global human settlements campaign was launched.
In most world cities, all you have to do is tell a taxi driver your street name, the house number and rest is common sense; in Tanzania it’s completely the opposite: you may to have to spend more time explaining where you are going than it takes to drive!
We still have a long way to get there, but it is achievable, and we believe that postcodes will greatly ease tourism in Dar es Salaam – a familiar spot for backpackers across the world.
Nobody would like to come to a city and go through the paces of asking useless questions. Address codes will provide those answers.