21 March 2013

Tanzania: MPs Want Section of BRt Road Open to Motorists

MEMBERS of the Parliamentary Committee on Infrastructure have asked the government to reconsider the design of a stretch of road between Bibi Titi Mohamed Road and Sokoine Drive to allow other vehicles to pass on the road rather than those to be operated through the bus rapid transit.

Briefing MPs, who were on a tour of the mega project in Dar es Salaam, Acting Chief Executive of the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit Agency (DART), Asteria Mlambo, said the section of the road would be closed for traffic when the project is completed and BRT becomes operational.

The piece of road is currently under construction and traders along it have complained of losing businesses as no motorist is allowed to pass there. MPs had a first-hand account of construction work of the project stretching 20.9km from the Kivukoni to Kimara Mwisho areas in the city.

Special Seats MP Zarina Madabida (CCM) was of a view that blocking the road for other users would have negative impacts for business along the street, which have been there for years. "The essence of the project is easing flow of traffic and making life better for the citizens but if we block this section then we wouldn't be fair for businesspeople, who have been operating here," Mr Madabida complained.

At this juncture, Deputy Minister for Infrastructure, Eng. Gerson Lwenge, said the government would consider the concerns raised by the lawmakers. Other legislators had proposed that the section of road be opened to other motorists during off-peak periods and closed on peak hours.

The Chairman of the parliamentary committee, Mr Peter Serukamba (Kigoma Urban-CCM), was of a view that blocking the road would lead to heavy traffic congestions in the Central Business District (CBD) rather than address it. Mr Serukamba also called on speedy implementation of the project to ensure that it is completed before the year 2015 as it was planned.

"There have been complaints regarding the pace at which the project is being implemented, but from what we have observed, it is clear that the contractor is picking up," the MP stated.

Reacting on the need to conduct construction work day and night to ensure the project is completed on time, an Engineer with the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS), Mr Frank Mbilinyi, ruled out on the possibility for security reasons. "The existing setting does not allow work to be conducted 24 hours since we fear of damages to businesses along the route," Mr Mbilinyi said.

Following several years of delays, the BRT project finally kicked off last year. Upon its completion it will involve 148 buses with capacity of between 140 and 160 passengers each, which will operate on the main trunk route between Kimara and Kivukoni ferry.

The project will also involve additional 100 buses with capacity of 60 passengers that will feed the main route. Upon completion, the BRT project is expected to replace over 1,800 commuter buses commonly referred to as "daladalas" operating on the commercial capital's roads.

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