24 May 2018

Tanzania Admits BRT Project Blunder

Photo: Citizen Tanzania
Tanzania admits BRT project blunder.

Dar es Salaam — The government admitted yesterday that poor supervision during execution of the Dar es Salaam bus rapid transit (BRT) project was to blame for frequent flooding at the transport network's head office.

The Minister of State in the Vice President's Office (Union Affairs and the Environment), Mr January Makamba, said implementation of the project did not take into consideration the advice of the National Environment Management Council (Nemc), which conducted an environmental impact assessment (EIA).

Documents from Nemc show that the area where the facility is located was supposed to be elevated to allow water to flow into the sea when it rains heavily.

"It's true that Nemc conducted an EIA at the site, but documents show that implementers of the project disregarded the agency's recommendations," Mr Makamba said during an interview with Clouds Television.

However, he declined to divulge details with regard to the government's plans to address the problem.

"I can't reveal our plans right now because they are still at government level," Mr Makamba said.

Usafiri Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (Udart) has on several occasions been forced to halt service due to flooding at the Jangwani valley, where its headquarters and main depot are located. Recent flooding damaged 79 buses at the facility.

Meanwhile, Mr Makamba said a Nemc team would soon visit the site of the proposed Stiegler's Gorge power station to verify the EIA report, which has been submitted.

He called on Tanzanians to be patient as the findings were being awaited.

Mr Makamba said the government could not be involved in a project of that size without conducting thorough research to determine what should be done to minimise the risks.

"Any construction work has some negative consequences on the environment. If you build a one-storey building, you will most likely prevent your neighbours from enjoying the breeze. The important thing is to understand how much damage can be caused before you embark on a project, and also establish what you can do to minimise any negative implications.

"Like any other project, the law must be observed, including conducting the necessary research, which is what is currently taking place," he added.

Mr Makamba said the project is under Tanzania Electric Supply Company, which registered it with Nemc and commissioned the Institute for Resource Assessment at the University of Dar es Salaam to conduct scientific research.

The minister further explained that once site verification is done, a technical advisory committee will meet to discuss and verify the findings.

"Next week there will be a meeting with experts to discuss the committee's findings."

In another development, Udart is expected to add 70 buses to its fleet soon.

The firm's head of communications, Mr Deus Bugaywa, said yesterday that the articulated buses, which cost $18.2 million (about Sh41.1 billion), had already arrived at Dar es Salaam Port, and were expected to have been cleared by early next month.

He added that the company's current fleet of 140 buses was unable to cope with a sharp rise in the number of commuters using Dart services daily. The company transported an average of 50,000 commuters when the services were launched two years ago, but the number has since risen to between 180,000 and 200,000.

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