Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

Tanzania: Enough of Dar Traffic Jams, Solution Should Be Found Urgently

I NEVER despair partly because I am an optimist through and through. I have many beliefs that keep me going in bad times. Good times are just around the corner.

A solution can be found. Nobody is too bad to be rehabilitated. There is always the other side of the coin. Something good will come out of this. But with the traffic jams in Dar, I am about to give up hope.

I am forever chasing the silver lining in the cloud but all I see in this case is dust and exhaust smoke from the million cars and motorcycles traversing the tens of roads in Bandar Salama.

Recently I left my home for a meeting in Oysterbay. It took me over an hour to cover the five kilometres from Mbezi Beach to Kawe roundabout. At that speed I could have walked to Mwenge. I realised it would take another two hours to reach Oysterbay at the rate traffic was moving.

If something is not working, try something else. So I turned west across Kawe suburb to Bagamoyo road. That was a wise decision. It took only 15 minutes to reach Mwenge and another 15 to get to Oysterbay. Knowing which route to take and when can save your day in Dar.

The thing is, why have we not expanded Mwai Kibaki road the Old Bagamoyo road to three lanes at least? That would ease the congestion on that road significantly. And perhaps justify the new name we have given to the historical road that passes through Mwalimu Nyerere's residence and the defunct Tanganyika packers company.

Paying some company to patch up that road with tar every few months has done little to relieve suffering motorists and commuters. After my meeting I tried to go back home but it took one and half hours to reach Kawe from Morocco junction. Since I had another engagement at six I abandoned going home.

By eight pm I was back on the road home but it was so bad I started believing I would ran out of fuel before reaching my destination. Had I been carrying raw eggs in the boot of my car I could have had boiled eggs by now. We should install solar cookers on car rooftops.

By the time you arrive at your destination, you could have tasty bite without visiting Best Bite restaurant. When I worked in Southern Sudan, I noticed many NGOs used squareshaped solar cookers that preserved natural flavours and the aroma of the food. Anyway, Tanzania seems to be a country of wasted opportunities so we will continue to heat up passengers to boiling point instead.

I hesitate to apportion blame in the current crisis but the truth is, the worsening traffic jams in the last few weeks or months are not because more cars are on the road or drivers have become worse at jumping the endless queues. It is because somebody continues to allow the ongoing expansions on Morogoro and Bagamoyo roads to close parts of those roads at peak traffic times.

This is a man-made nightmare on our city roads. It could be due to bad planning or poor supervision from government officials. In the morning it takes two hours or more from Kimara to Ubungo because some sections are unusable. We see many short diversions that do not add value to motoring or construction.

Why can the constructor not complete one section, really finish it properly before digging up another and making pedestrians and motorists miserable? One Mchagga lady described how, as she was commuting to her workplace in Mikocheni, she was stuck in the slowest traffic jam of her life. Just before Bahama Mama bar area, cars stopped moving. From four-thirty to six o'clock, the daladala she was in did not move even one metre.

Daladala drivers know how to find space to manoeuvre out of tight spots. This was bumper-tobumper traffic. Imagine being stuck in a stuffy rickety daladala for three hours. It is enough to kill your mood for serious work or being nice to workmates and nosy relatives for the rest of the day.

The thing is, when traffic is not moving on the Kibamba-Ubungo stretch, motorists find alternatives to reach town. Like from Makondeko to Masana hospital, Goba to Tanki Bovu, Mbezi Mwisho to Wazo Hill, they are finding ways to get to city centre via Mbezi Beach.

Many vehicle owners travelling from Dar to northern Tanzania these days use Bagamoyo as the exit point. This means the Mbezi- Tegeta-Bunju stretch becomes so congested you would think Bethlehem had been shifted to Tanzania and pilgrims were flocking there to see baby Jesus in a manger.

Where is the ferry service from the harbour to Bahari Beach? Such a service should come soon and not be operated by a government company kabisa.

They will mess it up like some people messed up UDA. The ministry of transport should invite the private sector to operate boat and ferry services to Coco Beach, Slipway, Msasani Club, Kunduchi and Bahari Beach. That service can do wonders to beach tourism.

Right now if you want to take your family or friends to the many beach hotels springing up every month around Dar es Salaam, you get discouraged when you think of the many hours in traffic before you can hold a cold drink in your hand. That kills the urge to go out.

I have stopped visiting relatives and friends unless they are within one hour's walking distance from my place. Sorry friends, I am out of circulation until in 2017. Perhaps somebody at Sumatra or city hall will allow private operators to bring air-conditioned minibuses to ply the Mbezi- Mikocheni-Posta route.

If that happened, I would willingly leave my car at home. On the bus I could browse the internet, respond to emails, read the news and twit on the way to work or shopping in town. Have a stress-free Christmas and New Year.

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