16 April 2016

Tanzania: Arusha City - Only 'One-Way' to Orderly Traffic Flow

opinion

When in 2006 a British transport 'expert' made a candid suggestion to the then Arusha municipal council to convert some of the roads in the city's central business area to one-way thoroughfares in order to ease traffic flow, they simply laughed at him. The councilors dismissed the matter with ridicule even without debating the pros and cons of the conversion.

The transport planner had suggested that traffic would flow safely and swiftly in Arusha's CBA if Sokoine road (formerly known as Uhuru road) was turned into one-way from the Clock Tower roundabout to Meru Post Office junction and turn right to Wachagga road that passes by the Arusha Urban Water and Sanitation Authority (AUWSA) offices. One-way traffic would then flow eastwards along Makongoro road adjacent to the Shekh Amri Abeid Stadium, the central police station to Goliondoi roundabout then southwards to join Sokoine Road. Further suggestions were to make the North/South and East/West roads, in between, alternate as one-way and some to feature as two-way.

Converting the roads to one-way would have created swift traffic flow and also ensured convenience and safety to motorists and pedestrians. Apart from swift movement, one-way roads in a city help to avoid accidents as drivers are not exposed to the dangers of on-coming vehicles. One- way roads also give planners the opportunity to create cyclists' and pedestrians paths as well as adequate space for parking.

Walking or driving along the roads that traverse Arusha city has currently turned out to be an absolutely risky adventure. Crossing any of them, at any time of the day or early evening, is a grim dance with death. Cars and bodaboda drivers zoom from all directions with uncontrollable rage.

One of the reasons why business has drastically slumped in shops along Sokoine is the awfully disorganized traffic and the lack of parking space in the busy thoroughfare. Hardware stores, banks, petrol stations, restaurants, offices, furniture stores, etc. are no longer attracting customers. Property value along the road that stands out as the most primed in Arusha has over the years appallingly diminished.

Nevertheless, the business area's chaotic situation could be reversed if the city officials and councilors could use their wisdom as city fathers to engage transport planners to make the necessary changes that would de-congest the CBA. Any change in route would most likely attract resistance. Taxi and bodaboda drivers, for example, may oppose the circuitous route to a specific destination, but would come to realize later that it is beneficial to them to take a slightly longer route. They would gleefully come to appreciate the fact that they could move swiftly from place to place within the city and therefore make more money.

In 2013 a municipal director Ms Lilian Siporah saw the sense of the one-way traffic system within the city. She announced her plans and the way forward but as she was bracing to implement the simple, inexpensive idea that would have transformed Arusha from a chaotic to an orderly metropolis, she was relocated to a smaller town. No one has so far come forward to implement her plans. One would understand the officials' lack of enthusiasm then. The project lacked the bidding element, only an official endorsement without chop. Not lucrative. However, with the recent changes which saw a dynamic group of youthful councilors come to the helm of the city's decision making chain of command, the opportunity is there to go "one-way" and achieve the economic, convenience and safety benefits that go with it.

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