Tanzania has benefited from a number of donor assisted highway projects over the years many of which provided fast smooth roads which then disintegrated because too little was done to maintain them; many were broken up by over-loaded lorries. The World Bank estimated that Tanzania was spending up to US$ 150 million annually (one third of total export earnings) on vehicle operation due to the bad roads.

Tanzania therefore launched in 1991 a much more ambitious programme than any that had gone before the 5-year Integrated Roads Project (IPR) for which World Bank and other donors are contributing 90% of the total cost of US$ 901 million. Under this project it is intended to improve 34,650 kms of Tanzania’s 55,000 kms of roads to ‘all weather, maintainable standards’: 10,150 kms will be trunk roads (only 10% of which were regarded as satisfactory in 1991) and the remainder rural roads. The IRP will also decentralise the Ministry of Works to enable it to cope better with maintenance and hopes to introduce a new’ road maintenance culture’. There will be a ‘no pothole policy’ aimed at repairing faults before they damage the road foundations and new methods are being introduced such as grinding up old Tarmac and using it again. The target is to have 70% of the trunk roads and 50% of key regional roads in good condition by 1996.

Work began in mid-1991. The Chinese are building the 226 km Tunduma-Sumbawanga road giving better access to the maize-rich Rukwa region: local firms are rebuilding the 310 km Bereku-Singida- Shelui and the 278 km Usagara-Lusahanga roads. other components of the project include a 58 km section of the Tanzania-Zambia highway from Igawa to Igurusi which is assigned to a British company (stirling), the Dar es Salaam-Kagera corridor via Oodoma and Mwanza with a branch to Tabora: and a design study of a new road from Tabora to Kigoma.

In Morogoro Region, in the interests of austerity and greater permanence, local ‘petty contractors’ from the villages are repairing short lengths of minor routes, and tracks for oxen, donkeys and horses using hand labour.

The roads in and around Dar es Salaam are a special problem which is being tackled by the Japanese. When I was last in Tanzania I was shocked by the number of private cars, especially the host of new ones bearing the ‘TX’ number plates (formerly used for duty-free vehicles) many belonging to aid agencies. Perhaps too much is being spent by donors on these cars and other creature comforts. I think it would be a good thing if development could be drawn away from Dar es Salaam which is creating part of the problem by being so insatiable for supplies from afar. I visited Dodoma in 1991 and it was clear to the officials I met that even they did not agree on where they would be able to find enough water to support the town as a capital city. I think that Tanzania would be better served if there were a number of prosperous and fairly self-sufficient regional centres and market towns rather than one huge megalopolis on the coast.
C T Hart

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.