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Road engineer urges total traffic system overhaul

15th December 2012
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A Tanzanian expert yesterday proposed a countrywide overhaul of urban transportation planning policies and legal frameworks –in a strategic move to completely eliminate chronic road congestion and related urban problems in the country’s cities.

“Overhauling of these systems and frameworks is inevitable, otherwise a modern and congestion-free urban transportation in our country would remain a pipe dream,” said Phares Ngeleja, a road expert attending a two-month training course on Urban Transportation Planning and Projects, in the Japanese capital of Tokyo.

Ngeleja is among construction and roads experts from different developing countries currently attending the course organized by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) as part of Japan’s international development assistance.

He pointed at numerous technical, administrative, institutional weaknesses in the management of the country’s urban transport networks and systems which require extensive review.

Taking Dar es Salaam as an example, he said the traffic trend was alarming, as total number of passenger cars plus pick-ups in the city is projected to increase to 179.8 thousand in 2015 and 515.4 thousand in 2030 with current trends.

“The average vehicular travel speed in 2007 was estimated at 25.6 km per hour, which will decrease to 10.0 km per hour in 2030 if nothing will be done,” said Ngeleja, as he presented a paper during the programme.

Lack of an urban transport policy and fragmented responsibilities among government agencies over the transport sector stands as a setback in on-going efforts to tackle traffic congestion in Dar es Salaam and other cities, he declared.

“For instance, Dar es Salaam city has a number of organizations/agencies dealing with transport issues, specifically the municipal councils (Temeke, Ilala and Kinondoni), TANROADS, the Ministry of Works, the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Lands and Human Settlement and the Dar es Salaam City Council…under such circumstances, coordination of transport sector becomes chaotic,” he further stated.

“In Japan, all affairs relating to urban planning and transportation are under the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). Some projects are funded by MLIT and some by the private sector. This makes management of urban transport planning easier,” he said in an interview.

He also mentioned the bad condition of bus terminals (with poor lighting and security), lack of well established services provision policies, lack of a regulatory policy concerning environmental impacts, an intra-city comprehensive transportation policy, traffic education and control systems—as key factors for uncontrolled urban congestion.

However, the road engineer from the Temeke Municipal Council proposed several measures to end urban transport problems. Initially, he said, the government needs to review the Dar es Salaam City master plan, which was drafted under funding from JICA in 2008 and implement the plan by priorities, starting with the road infrastructure.

Picking the example of Japan, Ngeleja recommended to the government and relevant authorities to invite private players in the construction of roads, establishing an urban transport policy and setting up guidelines or level playing rules/regulations for private transport service providers.

“In brief, primary focus is needed for the development of efficient public transport networks if we really want to mitigate traffic growth for effective and smooth city mobility and development in Tanzania,” he said.

In an exclusive interview with The Guardian, the training facilitator from the Tokyo Metropolitan District, Masashi Sugaya, said that anticipated growth and development in developing nations would be so difficult if they will not put more efforts in developing their transport infrastructures.

A participant from Kenya, Anthony Gathumbi said “we, Africans need to change our behavior if we want to get rid of road congestions…we (regardless of our social status) have to use public transport and avoid unnecessary use of personal transport.”

Gizaw Alemu, transport training case team leader from Ethiopia, said “developing countries need massive support from creditor nations in the construction of standard roads, including expressways, like the ones we see in Japan.”

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN