Dar es salaam is headed for more acute traffic congestion by 2030 if no action is taken to overhaul transportation planning policies and legal framework, a road expert has warned.
Pharles Ngeleja, a road expert from Tanzania, on a two-month training course on Urban Transportation Planning and Project, in Tokyo, Japan
under JICA says the traffic trend was alarming, as total number of passenger cars plus pick-ups plying the city roads was projected to more than double by 2030.
“The average vehicular travel speed in 2007 was estimated at 25.6 kms per hour. This will decrease to 10.0 kms per hour in 2030 if nothing will be done,” said Ngeleja, in a paper he presented during the programme.
This would reduce traffic to a walking pace worsening the already negative implications for the economy.
A survey conducted by the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) in 2010 established that traffic jams eat up to 20 per cent of annual profits of most businesses.
A senior official of the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (Dart) was quoted recently saying businesses and other institutions incur about 4bn/- in loss every day in Dar es Salaam city due to persistent traffic jams.
The loss is mainly incurred through decreased productivity as workers and entrepreneurs report late at work or miss appointments, fuel wastage, and late delivery of mechandise.
Experts say the losses have a direct bearing on the national economy considering the fact that Dar es Salaam, the most populous city in the country, generates about 70 per cent of all government’s revenue.
Ngeleja said in order to eliminate chronic traffic congestion and related problems in cities, “overhaul of these systems and frameworks are inevitable, otherwise a modern and congestion-free urban transportation in our country would remain a mere dream.”
He said lack of urban transport policy and fragmented responsibilities among government agencies in the transport sector was a setback in the on-going efforts to tackle traffic congestion in Dar es Salaam and other cities in the country.
“For instance, Dar es Salaam city has a number of organisations/agencies dealing with transport issues--municipal councils (Temeke, Ilala and Kinondoni), TANROADS, Ministry of Works, Ministry of Transport, Ministry of Lands and Human Settlement Development and Dar es Salaam City Council…under such circumstance, coordination of transport sector becomes chaotic,” said Ngeleja.
“In Japan, all affairs relating to urban planning and transportation are under 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,” Ngeleja told The Guardian on the sidelines.
He also cited bad condition of bus terminals (with poor lighting and security), lack of well established service provision policies, regulation policy concerning environmental impacts, intra-city comprehensive transportation policy, traffic education and control systems — as some of the key factors behind uncontrolled urban congestion.
However, the road engineer from Temeke Municipal Council proposed several measures for ending urban transport problems. Initially, he said, the government needs to review the Dar es Salaam Master Plan, which was drafted with funding from JICA in 2008 and implement it according to priorities starting with road infrastructure.
Ngeleja recommended inviting private players in the construction of roads, establishing urban transport policy and setting up guidelines or level playing rules/regulations for private transport service providers.
“In brief, a primary focus is needed for the development of efficient public transport networks if we really want to mitigate traffic growth and hence effective and smooth cities’ mobility and development in Tanzania,” he said.
In an exclusive with The Guardian, the training facilitator from Tokyo Metropolitan District, Masashi Sugaya, said: “Anticipated growth and development in developing countries would be very difficult if they do 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 developed nations in the construction of standard roads, including expressways, like the ones we see in Japan.”