Dar es Salaam — Murmurs greeted the news that the government was planning an eight-lane expansion of the Morocco-Mwenge road in the city, with fears the mushrooming high rise buildings along the 4.3 kilometres stretch may be affected.
The expansion is on a section of the busy Ally Hassan Mwinyi road whose skyline has recently changed to boast tall and beaming glassy buildings that host the headquarters of some blue-chip companies including Vodacom and Acacia Mining.
Businesses renting space in some of the storey buildings were anxious when told of the planned expansion, a majority of them wondering if the remaining space would accommodate the eight lanes, including two for the now popular Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) operations.
"That is good news to hear but I am worried that the expansion may affect some of the instalments you see coming up along the road. I don't see how the remaining space will accommodate the eight lanes without some demolitions," said one retailer who has opened a carpet shop in one of the buildings.
According to the interviewee, their fear was heightened with the ongoing demolitions in Kimara and Mbezi areas along Morogoro road that is due for expansion to a six-lane highway to Kiluvya from Kimara BRT terminal. "We still remember that there were attempts to demolish the Millennium Towers building a few years ago over the same expansion plan," said another interviewee running a pharmacy in the locality.
However, the government was quick to assure that no building will be brought down to pave the way for the expansion, which will be the second in under two years. The road was expanded last year to add one more lane on orders of President John Magufuli.
The permanent Secretary in the ministry of Works, Transport and Communications Mr Joseph Nyamuhanga told The Citizen in a telephone interview yesterday that the assignment to clear the 4.3 kilometres was completed three months ago and that no facility will face demolition in the course of implementing the project through funding from Japan.
He said the expansion will see the construction of two lanes for the BRT and a normal lane to attain the required eight lanes that will connect the four lane Mwenge to Tegeta road. "Mwenge to Tegeta road also needs a BRT lane and one other lane on each side to meet the same standard of eight lanes that will continuously connect Tegeta and Morocco terminals," he said.
"Grant Agreement between the two countries is expected to be signed anytime from now though it's the Ministry of Finance and Planning who are in position of giving detailed information on the project funding," he said, adding that the target is to complete it in the next three years.
Last year's work on the section was funded to the tune of Sh4 billion which was diverted after President Magufuli cancelled the Independence Day celebrations in 2015. Japan is also financing the upgrading of the Tazara flyover, Bendera tatu to Kamata road and the construction of the four lane Gerezani Bridge.
"The project design is already accomplished, we are looking forward to announce the tender sometime soon," Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Tanzania National Roads Agency (Tanroads) Patrick Mfugale told The Citizen yesterday.
He said the expansion was in the governments' long term plans and was supposed to have been done earlier, even before the minor expansion last year. He said lack of funds was the reason for the delay of the project which provides a quick link for residents of Mwenge and nearby suburbs to and from the city centre. According to him, the previous expansion was in line with emergency contingencies to reduce the congestion along the route. Mr Mfugale also assured that no structure along the 4.3 kilometre section will be pulled down. He said only the power supply infrastructure had been affected.
The eight-lane plan was contained in a statement released on Tuesday by the Director of Presidential Communications Mr Gerson Msigwa during a meeting between President Magufuli and the former Japanese Foreign Affairs Minister who is a Member of Parliament, Mr Ichiro Aisawa at State House.