Floods bring Dar to a halt

14Oct 2020
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Floods bring Dar to a halt

​​​​​​​HEAVY rains that pounded Dar es Salaam from dawn to dusk yesterday turned the commercial hub into a floating city, with businesses operating at a bare minimum.

This is but just part of evidence that, despite the massive improvement the road network in metropolitan Dar es Salaam has undergone in recent years, much of the city remains especially vulnerable whenever there is a downpour. Pictured is a school bus stuck in floodwaters along the Bamaga stretch of Shekilango Road during heavy rain that pounded the city for hours since dawn yesterday. Photo: Correspondent Miraji Msala

Many roads were rendered impassable with thousands of commuters caught up in traffic snarls as the central business district (CBD) became a no-go zone.                                            

A survey by The Guardian showed that main gateways to the CBD, the Jangwani and Mkwajuni valleys were closed as they turned into extension of the sea, forcing commuters to use other equally flooded routes.

The valley at Tabata Relini adjacent to Mwananchi Communications Limited overflew to the Mandela Expressway, turning the road section all the way to Azam Media complex into a river for the better part of the day.

The Ali Hassan Mwinyi road, being put to extensive expansion, was not spared. The Mwenge-Bamaga section turned into a river, bringing traffic to a standstill.

With clogged or strained drainage system in many parts of the city, the rains once again exposed the creaky infrastructure of the commercial hub that is home to over six million residents.

And it is on over yet, as the Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA) says the rains will continue today and tomorrow but at a reduced rate,

TMA Director General Dr Agnes Kijazi said the rains were also felt in parts of Morogoro Region where rains will continue for three days, as in the city.

“I call upon residents especially those living in low-lying areas to move to elevated areas,” she said.

Flooding and the consequent displacement of residents, disruption of economic activities is a yearly ritual when it rains heavily in the city.

Last year, a World Bank study found that flooding in Dar es Salaam in 2018 which killed 17 people caused damage to infrastructure estimated at $100m.

The study related to poverty and economic resilience in Dar es Salaam, where for the first time it quantified the magnitude of the impact of heavy rains on infrastructure.

The losses incurred were close to two per cent of total annual income of the city, repeatedly hit by flooding over the past decade.

Msimbazi river basin is the most flooded part of the city, where prohibition of sand mining in the 1990s gradually elevated the quantity of loose sand pushed by floods, which the study estimated at 950,000 cubic metres of sand each year.

The resulting sedimentation diminishes the carrying capacity of river beds, slows the passage of water to the sea and rapidly flood neighbouring suburbs and well beyond, observers noted.