Tanzania: Zanzibar Road Congestion Needs Urgent Solution

Demand for automobiles in Zanzibar, like in many cities and towns world-wide, has gone up significantly in the past few years.

Unfortunately, the recent moves of widening roads and opening new routes have not helped much in reducing congestion.

Nowadays, traffic congestion has led to a loss of productivity in public and private sectors because of too much time wasted on jams and other congestion-related expenses.

When there is no snarl up in the Bububu road one takes up to a maximum of 25 minutes to get to the Darajani central market, 11 kilometres away. When there is congestion, especially when it rains, the journey takes almost an hour.

Motorists in other areas of the Municipality also experience similar scenarios during rush hours.

If you look at what are the causes of the congestion you find out that the increased number of vehicles, especially of trucks and buses is just a small contributing factor.

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The biggest problem is undisciplined and reckless bus and truck drivers and Bodaboda operators who overtake from all sides of the road. They care less about road safety and regulations, even when traffic police officers are around.

Some Daladala (commuter bus) and truck drivers use the highway's shoulders and enter the main road at points they choose. This is really disturbing and dangerous.

Others park, drop or pick passengers at unapproved parking spots, sometimes at the corners. Vendors also use strategic corners to sell food, fruits, vegetables, sweets and cigarettes.

Some drivers park vehicles on the road side for minutes, thus preventing other vehicles from moving freely and safely.

Those driving cars with SMZ (Zanzibar Revolutionary Government) plate numbers refuse to join queues and overtake freely as if they are not bound with road safety rules. They cause frequent blockades as they meet cars coming from the opposite direction.

Moreover, some portions of the road and especially when it rains are riddled with small and big potholes, which also contribute to the slow movement of the cars and motor cycles.

What I experience nowadays along the Bububu-Darajani road is what I can describe as a nightmare or a very disturbing, organised chaos.

The presence of the Darajani, Fuoni and Airport bound commercial vehicles and open cars parked on the road side and conductors and their road side assistants calling out their various routes to commuters, as well as commercial motorcyclists waiting to pick up passengers increase the chaos.

The situation worsens when there is a motorcade of buses carrying tourists and given a police escort or an ambulance from the rural areas rushing a patient to the Manazi Moja Hospital.

Zanzibar must now make a serious review of the road congestion we now experience.

Those responsible of easing the situation must be strict in ensuring each and every driver and motor cyclist observe the laws and regulations and impose heavy penalties to those who don't care to observe them.

The pedestrians must be forced if they are not ready to use certain places to cross the road, instead of the present scenario where every place has been turned into a pedestrian crossing site.

I think the imposition of on the spot penalties by the traffic police will help, or reduce the congestion, while we look on what should be done to find a permanent solution.

It is important to realise that this congestion is not only costly in terms of lives and limbs, but also with the time wasted which can be utilised for productivity or studying.

Few people, no matter who they are or where they work, who are not prepared to be law abiding citizens and not socially responsible or pretending to be mentally abnormal must not be allowed to reduce Zanzibar into a society of people on the brink of insanity.

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