One of the top priorities of the government of President Jakaya Kikwete is to ensure that the country is connected by a reliable road network.
The head of state has shown a clear commitment through consistent push of the projects being implemented to open up the country.
Needless to say, without roads, the country will continue to lag behind in economic development, whatever amount of efforts that the people put into production. For without access to markets, very soon production becomes meaningless, more so calls for increased effort.
We remember only too well, how a few years back, maize was rotting in Rukwa Region while a good part of the country was facing a severe food shortage, forcing the country to import the cereal.
We also remember how not so long ago people travelling from Dar es Salaam to Kagera, Mara and Mwanza regions had to take the long, expensive and tiring two-day trip via Kenya and Uganda to get there.
Now at least passengers from Dar can reach these destinations within a day at the most and no longer have to go through Kenya and Uganda.
This is a clear proof of the efforts that have gone into putting in place infrastructure to link up the country, at least the regional capitals.
But there are still major challenges to bringing the vast countryside within reach of major economic agents, such as suppliers of farm implements and inputs, buyers of farm produce and livestock.
This is where the majority people of this country live and carry out the economic activities that sustain their lives and the nation.
We still have a lot to do to create the environment that will attract agro-processing industries to these vital production areas, not to mention financial institutions which are crucial in enabling farmers expand and improve their operations.
We thus welcome the efforts being directed at improving the rural road network to complete the positive effort of improving accessibility as one of the fundamental enabling environments for economic development.
Thus the importance of the launch the Rural Road Maintenance System Development Project in Dodoma today, aimed at improving local transport, poverty alleviation, socio-economic development and agriculture.
Implemented by the government through technical cooperation support of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the four-year project aims to develop the capacity of district councils for effective and efficient inventory survey, planning, works implementation and inspection of rural roads development and maintenance.
We hope this is a start of efforts to put into place a sustainable infrastructure maintenance system, not only for rural roads, but also the trunk roads, highways and our railway lines.
This is a crucial requirement and the institutions set up for the purpose must constantly monitor the infrastructure and act quickly whenever they detect anything that could disrupt the smooth functioning of the passageways.
Lest we forget, Tanzania’s economy is rearing to go. It can only grow at the high rates we only dream of and deliver more benefits to the population if all potential growth centres are kept open at all times.