Dar es Salaam — In the middle of Manzese, one of the densely populated areas of Dar es Salaam, there is a house that belongs to one, Mr Swai, a petty trader.
It is nearly four kilometres from the busy Morogoro Road.
About 20 years ago when he was constructing his three-bedroom house, it was easy for him to drive to his home.
Nonetheless, things have changed due to unplanned settlements.
Mr Swai (49) and his neighbours can no longer drive through the streets anymore. They have no option but to access their homes on foot.
Walking is the best option for those residing around Mr Swai's area, for people have encroached upon street roads.
Sewage systems also raise many unanswered questions. A lot of them drain wastes into trenches that flow to nowhere.
"There are many people living here in below standard houses and they are often exposed to a variety of social, economic and environmental risks, which include robbery and epidemic diseases," he said.
According to him, he bought a piece of land and started building his house a few years later, but there are no more plots nowadays and the area is overpopulated.
He said the houses are not built systematically, which makes it difficult to maintain drainage systems.
Wastes fill the available drainage trenches that cause flooding during the rainy season. Several people have so far lost their lives due to floods besides damage of their properties.
Most streets roads in the city are in poor state, especially in rapidly expanding areas like Kivule and Mabwepande where there is a critical shortage of social services.
Problems facing Mr Swai and his neighbours in Manzese are similar with those of many areas of the Tanzania's commercial capital, for the settlements are not planned.
"I have lived in Mbeya since my childhood and married in the same region, but I never saw myself making progress in my life until when I came in the city four years ago," says Peter Mkubukwa, a resident of Mbezi Makabe.
Since he arrived in Dar es Salaam, Mr Mkubukwa who was a daladala driver, said he has accomplished many things including building his own house in Mbeya and he has bought a plot at Mbezi Makabe.
The biggest achievement, according to him, is that his children study at a private school.
Despite the fact that Dar es Salaam has many economic advantages, the city is overwhelmed with the ever growing population demands.
Dar es Salaam, which has 5.3 million people, according to National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 2016 data, is the most crowded region in the country.
The NBS data shows that within four years, Dar es Salaam has noticed an increase of 1.06 million people with annual average population growth of 212,000 people compared to other regions.
Dar es Salaam has about 11 per cent of the total population of Tanzania, which is equivalent to the combined total population of Mtwara, Lindi, Songwe, Iringa, Njombe and Katavi.
The city's population growth stands at eight per cent annually and thousands of people migrate every day from rural areas and other towns to Dar es Salaam in search of job opportunities like Mr Mkubukwa.
"In terms of contribution to in-migration, Dar es Salaam clearly dominates by having a proportion of about 30 per cent of in-migration and other regions with a high proportion of in-migrants are Katavi, Pwani, Shinyanga, Geita, and in Zanzibar it is Mjini Magharibi," reads part of the 2012 Census' Migration and Urbanisation book.
According to the Census statistics, the number of people who migrated to Dar es Salaam in 2012 was 2.26 million people, almost twice of what was recorded in 2002 of 1.2 million people.
The number of in-migrants in 2012 was more than eight times than those who were leaving the city whose number stands at 269,126.
The population is growing further while infrastructure and land size remain the same.
According to the African Development Bank, the city is expected to expand by more than 85 per cent through 2025 and could reach 21.4 million people by 2052 and it is likely to achieve the 'megacity' status of 10 million residents or more by the early 2030s.
The influx is perturbing considering that a World Bank study shows that over 70 per cent of Dar es Salaam's residents live in informal and unplanned settlements while half of them survive on roughly a dollar a day.
Currently, the government is carrying demolition of houses that were built along the Morogoro Road, saying that they were built within the road reserve. The exercises has so far left thousands homeless.
However, last week President John Magufuli halted plans to demolish 17,000 houses built illegally along the Msimbazi River that was about to be carried by the National Environmental Management Council (Nemc).
Apart from the burden of unplanned settlements residents are going through, floods have been affecting the city almost every year.
In East Africa, Tanzania is bearing the heaviest burden of flooding, which threatens its Dar es Salaam's infrastructure valued at $5.3 billion, the World Bank said recently at the launch of Tanzania's urban programme.
With all challenges and opportunities, the question on how to make the city sustainable remains.
In 2015, the UN member states passed 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) including goal number 11 that aims to "make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable".
Analysts says it is impossible to prohibit people from populating the city, but sustainable policies for cities across the country will help reduce the current challenges facing Dar es Salaam.
United Nation Development Program (UNDP) officer in charge David Omuzuofoh told this paper recently that for Dar es Salaam to be sustainable, the government should come up with a forward-looking policy that will allow expansion of cities.
Among the issues to be addressed by the policy, according to Mr Omuzuofoh, is the plan for drainage system and waste management.
"Dar es Salaam cannot remain with this population in the next two decades, but when the government will come up with a policy that will allow expansion of the city and the country in general, Dar es Salaam will be sustainable," he said.
He said the government cannot stop people moving into the city because they believe they can find everything in the city, but an expansion policy, which makes lives of people livable, majority will stop coming to the city.
"If people in the suburbs, rural areas could access all necessary requirements like social services in their localities the city would be livable and majority won't find the need to migrate to Dar es Salaam," he said.
To ensure that Dar es Salaam copes with the upcoming metropolitan challenges, Husea Company Limited Chairperson, Renny Chiwa said there is a need to improve at least five suburbs in Dar es Salaam that will absorb the current congestion to the city centre.
According to him, if Bunju, Tegeta, Mbagala, and Bagamoyo would be independent in terms of social and official services by 100 per cent then Dar es Salaam would be livable in the next coming decade.
"We need to have reliable services, big commercial centres and linkages to accommodate people living in such areas," said Mr Chiwa whose company deals with land and urban planning.
Mr Chiwa added that almost 80 per cent of Dar es Salaam general lands are informal settlements, but if the government formalises the areas will serve people from traffic congestion.
Vice President's Office permanent secretary, department of union affairs and environment Prof. Faustin Kamuzora told The Citizen that to make the city livable, currently, the government is implementing several technologies in rural areas.
"Most of rural people come in the city due to accessibility and opportunities, but currently we are improving services in rural areas such as electricity, health facilities and communications, which would discourage the tendency of coming to Dar es Salaam," he said.
According to him, they want to ensure that all Dar es Salaam attractions were also accessed in the rural areas, looking into the fact that the size of land cannot increased.
In a bid to decongest the city's traffic, the government came up with the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), which since its inception in May 2016, it has helped people with vehicles to use commuter buses and has reduced time wasted due to traffic jams.
Currently, the government is implementing grand projects to reduce more traffic jams in the city including Tazara flyovers and Ubungo interchange.
Even as the more infrastructure projects are underway in Dar es Salaam, up to now the city has no master plan in place since 1979. It is nearly four years since the government unveiled the first draft of the new master plan 2012-2032 but is yet to be approved for implementation.
The master plan included plans for upgrading infrastructure, improving settlements and guaranteeing proper land use to make the city habitable.
Dar es Salaam's Lord Mayor Isaya Mwita said the only way to make Dar es Salaam sustainable by 2030 is to come up with a new master plan and to implement it effectively.
"Also in order to make the city sustainable we need to improve social, economic and environmental services in the outskirts of Dar es Salaam and this is what we are doing," he said. .
The Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, director of urban planning Prof. John Lupala said that contractor was yet to finalise the master plan therefore it was not easy to establish areas that would be developed to sustain the city.
"If the master plan was finalised I was going to be in a position to explain how Dar es Salaam will be livable in the coming years," he said.