TRANSPORT

by Ben Taylor

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Julius Nyerere Bridge opened
President Magufuli has officially opened Julius Nyerere bridge in Dar es Salaam. The bridge, previously known as Kigamboni bridge, provides a second link between Kigamboni and Dar es Salaam city centre, relieving pressure on the Kivukoni ferry crossing.

The bridge is 680 metres in length, making it the longest cable-stayed bridge in East Africa. It is six lanes wide, plus pedestrian / cycle lanes on each side – a total of 32 metres. The road connects to the Mandela expressway, close to the national stadium, and to the Kigamboni-Kibada Road on the Kigamboni side.

It took nearly five years to construct, at a cost of US$143m. The work was carried out by the China Railway Construction Engineering Group in a joint venture with the China Railway Major Bridge Engineering Group and Arab Consultant from Egypt.

Officially opening the bridge, President Magufuli commended the contractors and local bodies that had been involved, including Tanzania Roads Agency, the Ministry of Works and the National Social Security Fund, which put up 60% of the cost.

“They had proposed that this bridge should be named after me since there are other bridges named after former presidents Benjamin Mkapa and Jakaya Kikwete, but I said no,” the president said. “I have just been fulfilling my responsibility as a public servant. I should not be merited. Calling it Nyerere Bridge will be an important gift to me. This bridge will be a good reminder and honour to our founding father’s efforts to unite Tanzanians despite their differences in tribe, religion and political party affiliation, such that we all speak one language.”

In his previous role as Minister of Works, President Magufuli had played a key role from early stages of the bridge’s construction.

At the launch event, President Magufuli suspended the Dar es Salaam City Director, Wilson Kabwe, after the Regional Commissioner, Paul Makonda, told the gathering that the director had cost the city council TSh 3bn by using outdated by-laws governing Ubungo bus station. The President asked the gathered crowd what action he should take, and was encouraged to “tumbua jipu” (lance the boil).

The bridge will be operated as a toll bridge, enabling NSSF to recover its contribution to the construction costs. The price will be the same as the Kigamboni Ferry crossing.

“It’s a dream come true, I never expected this to happen in my life time,” said Mzee Iddi Amri Saadi, a 72 year old resident of Kigamboni who for over five decades has been crossing the entrance of Dar es Salaam port on wooden boats or ferries. “It was about 27km drive this morning from home to office, (which took about 1 hour thanks to Nyerere Bridge). It used to take about 3 hours (to reach the office) via ferry by car,” said Irenei Kiria, a resident of Kigamboni.

TAZARA flyover project
A ground-breaking ceremony for the long-awaited TAZARA flyover project in Dar es Salaam was held in April. The junction, where Nelson Mandela Road and Julius K Nyerere Road meet, halfway between the airport and the city centre, has long been the focus on discussions on reducing traffic congestion in the city.

Speaking at the ceremony, Patrick Mfugale, Chief Executive Officer for the Tanzania National Roads Agency, said the project would cost $50m, of which the government of Japan was contributing $46.5m.

Makame Mbarawa, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, said that on completion, traffic congestion in the city will be reduced by 80%.

President Magufuli used the opportunity to speak about other planned transport projects. This included a six-lane 128km highway from Nyerere Bridge (Kigamboni) to Chalinze, with five flyovers, plans to upgrade the central railway line to standard gauge and to construct a 7km road bridge from Coco Beach to the city centre.

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