Benjamin Mgonja is typical young employed degree holder who lives in Dar es Salaam. He graduated from St Augustine University of Tanzania two years ago and has always dreamt of buying a car.
After saving money and obtaining a bank loan he bought one, and felt satisfied that he had finally got reliable means of transport from his Kimara suburb residence in the fast expanding city.
Six months on, however, he regrets his decision because he rarely uses the car to and from work, at Posta Mpya area, along Azikiwe road in the city. The traffic jam nightmare is the cause of his misery.
Dar es Salaam vehicles often drive bumper to bumper and Mgonja knows running a car under the conditions is costly, besides being a waste of time. He now goes for the inconvenient but popular Daladala public transport, though he wanted a car just to avoid it.
“On one Friday when I was returning from work it took three hours on the road to reach home,” he recalls. Most car owners in the city face this predicament.
Anna Mbunga (not real name) works in the Dar es Salaam City Council. After work she stops by at nearby A-Tea Shop for snacks before walking the half-kilometre stretch to Kariakoo to catch a bus for Tegeta where she lives, a 20-kilometres journey that takes two hours.
Meanwhile, a South African delegate to a recent food security policy dialogue was surprised her taxi trip from Julius Nyerere International Airport to White Sands Hotel in Kunduchi took more than flight time from Johannesburg to Dar es Salaam.
For Anna and the South African visitor, just like for Mgonja, Dar es Salaam traffic bottlenecks are a big nuisance - a problem faced daily by the majority of the city residents. There are cases of patients getting delayed to reach hospital because of being held up in traffic jams. There are also people who failed to appear for job interviews owing to this problem.
Some observers say the traffic jams are due to a sudden increase of people like Mgonja who can afford a car. The young graduate now thinks it is better to have a good public means of transport. “We need more buses but they must be in good condition, safe and user friendly, it will reduce the need for everyone to always drive their own car.”
There is concern over daladala drivers stopping randomly in a bid to capture passengers worsening the problem. This is besides the nonfunctioning traffic lights in parts of the city making the situation almost unbearable to commuters.
The motoring public has few choices. For instance, people in Tegeta, Kunduchi, Kimara and other outskirts have to wake up before 5am for the trip to work, reaching the offices by 6.30am, to avoid traffic snares but that is too early to start work.
When evening comes it takes two to three hours to reach home. Many workers remain at the office or nearby drinking places until past 8pm when traffic congestion starts to ease up. Marriages could suffer because of absence of spouses when they are supposed to be at home. This early to leave and late to return home lifestyle can lead people into temptation and even to fall into the hands of the devil.
It is no fun being stuck in traffic for hours every day, even in air-conditioned vehicles and some daladala drivers are so arrogant you would be excused for believing that their buses are owned by traffic cops or other powerful persons.
Many motorists would gladly leave their cars home if the public transport were readily availabile and comfortable. Special buses with full AC would do the trick. Play in some soft music to soothe people’s nerves and window curtains to keep uncomfortable sun rays at bay.
In such buses executives or entrepreneurs can surf the internet, read and respond to e-mails as well as browse through the newspapers before reaching the office. Appropriate fares can be set, for example Sh1,000 between Mwenge and Posta Mpya or Sh1,500 between Mbezi and Posta Mpya and Sh2,000 from Tegeta or Kimara to Posta Mpya.
Luckily, there is now a new hope. A $2.8 million World Bank financed transport system called Dar Rapid Transit (DART) is under way, aimed at introducing city transport service that meets international standards using high capacity and cost effective buses operating on exclusive lanes at less traveling time.
On Wednesday this week, President Jakaya Kikwete inaugurated DART. It is expected that 180 rapid buses will be introduced, thereby reducing traffic congestion pressure. Eng. Patrick Mfugale, Acting CEO of TANROADs said a 20.9 kilometre rapid highway will be built from Kimara to Kivukoni and Morocco to Magomeni.
STRABAG has received a € 134 million order in Tanzania’s main city of Dar es Salaam. The company will build a rapid bus transit (BRT) system: an above-ground bus transport system, with separate bus lanes and priority right of way. The order includes the rehabilitation and expansion of a total of three main traffic arteries linking the city and its port with the western inland, Burundi and Rwanda.
STRABAG - one of the main brands of STRABAG SE -is a significant European construction company employed in all the fields of the construction industry works internationally as one of the leading providers of construction services in Central and Eastern Europe.
“The works awarded to subsidiary STRABAG International are part of the Second Central Transport Corridor Project, which is intended to support Tanzania’s economic growth through an efficient transport system. The most important components are the urban transport system in Dar es Salaam, the trunk roads, and Zanzibar Airport,” says Herbert Schippers, Business Unit Manager in Tanzania.
The STRABAG order is divided into lots. Lot 1 comprises the development of the road from Magomeni to Kimara including 15 bus stops, the Kimara Terminal and the Ubongo Terminal. Lot 2 includes the rehabilitation of the road from Magomeni to Kivukoni, Kawawa Road from Magomeni to Morocco and Msimbazi Road from Fire to Kariakoo including 14 bus stops and the Morocco Terminal.
It will build centre lanes in both directions exclusively for public bus transit. The existing roadway will be widened to maintain the two-lane carriageway for mixed traffic and to add new bicycle lanes and paved pedestrian sidewalks. A bus stop will be built in the centre lane every 500–700m, and the main and terminal stations Kimara, Ubungo and Morocco are to be developed.
DART Chief Executive Officer Cosmas Takule says there will be express and normal services. For the express service, a journey from Kimara Mwisho to Posta Mpya takes only 25 minutes and for normal service the journey would take from 30 to 40 minutes.
Takule adds: “It is a huge change in transport system and it will ease the traffic jams for many Tanzanians who have suffered a lot from it.”
TANROADs Public Relations Officer Aisha Malima giving further details says there will be Ubungo Bus Terminal-Kigogo-Kawawa Road Roundabout (6.4 km) lot. The second one will be Kawawa Roundabout-Msimbazi-Jangwani/Twiga junctions (2.7 km) and lot three will stretch from Jet Corner-Vituka-Davis Corner (10.3 km) and the forth project is Bus Rapid Transit (BRT).
The first phase will start at Kivukoni, ending at Kimara Mwisho, including Kawawa Road from Magomeni to Morocco and Msimbazi Road from Fire to the intersection with Nyerere Road. According to her the arrangement will help decongest Kimara and Mbagala routes.
According to Malima the work will also include construction of 29 ordinary bus stations (bus stops) within roadway, five bus terminals and two bus depots along the project corridor.
Additional works include infrastructure works such as the laying of drinking water pipes, the development of the wastewater system and telecommunication network, as well as the construction of street lighting and traffic facilities.
All that means there is light on the horizon to eliminate Dar es Salaam’s traffic congestion. Construction was to the road system begun in February 2012. The maximum construction time is 36 months and the 17 kilometre road must is expected to be completed after 24 months.