While it remains unclear if the World Bank is still funding the project as initially announced, the government through the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) has chosen to remain mum on the matter.
TANROADS manager for Dar es Salaam region, Julius Ndyamukama, told The Guardian in a recent interview that the 148bn/- project is progressing well under government funding so far following the completion of a controversial demolition exercise involving structures that were within the road reserve boundary.
The plan is to expand the road into a six-lane highway from Ubungo to Chalinze, and the entire project has been given a completion schedule of up to 30 months. Work is currently concentrated on the stretch from Kimara to Kibaha.
But when asked about the initial reports of the 110-kilometre mega project being funded by the World Bank, as reported in September last year quoting the then works minister Makame Mbarawa, Ndyamukama said he could not comment on that.
The World Bank itself has yet to confirm or deny reports that abounded at one time that it had withdrawn its funding from the project due to violations of human rights in the demolition exercise which saw over 1,000 structures within the road reserve pulled down without compensation for the owners.
When asked by The Guardian about the reports in October last year, a spokeswoman for the World Bank office in Tanzania said only that:
"The bank and the government are at the earliest stages of deliberations over potential World Bank support for the development of the Dar es Salaam-Chalinze Expressway.”
Any remaining hopes of compensation for the people whose houses were demolished to pave way for the Morogoro Road expansion project appear to have been dashed after TANROADS reiterated that none of them deserves a penny.
The 1,000-plus structures that were pulled down included residential houses, commercial buildings, churches, and mosques. According to Ndyamukama, no one can expect to be compensated as the whole demolition exercise was implemented according to the law.
He said the legality of the exercise was centred around the Road Reserve Act of 1932 (Highway Ordinance Cap 167), which puts the road reserve area at 121.5 meters on both sides, beginning at Kimara Stopover to Ruvu in Mlandizi, and makes it clear that anyone found within that area is an illegal occupier.
“No structure that fell within this road reserve area will be compensated unless we begin another expansion exercise, which is when any compensation matters may be involved,” Ndyamukama explained.
A survey by The Guardian along Morogoro Road found some people whose houses were demolished still conducting small income-generating activities like selling tea and snacks around the road expansion area.
Mariam Rashid (62), whose home was among those pulled down, said she still harbours hopes that the authorities will eventually compensate them in one way or another.
“The house that we lived in for years is now no more... we understand that the government’s intentions were good but we also hope that the government can look at this from our point of view and see how we can be compensated,” Mariam said, adding: “We have children to feed and send to school.”
Herry Junus, a resident of Kimara, suggested that road reserve violations are mainly due to poor land management, planning, and allocation of surveyed plots by the city authorities.
“If the planners saw this earlier, then no one could have managed to construct or establish any structure within the reserve area,” Junus said.
According to Ndyamukama, Tanzanians should know that transport infrastructure investments lead to changes in generalised transport costs as they shorten distances. This, he said, will in turn help to increase productivity in local communities, companies, and the country at large.
Morogoro Road is seen as a gateway to neighbouring African countries like Zambia, Malawi, DR Congo, Uganda, Rwanda, and Burundi. Upon completion, it is expected to open up new investment opportunities and stimulate economic growth across the country.