Tanzania: Recurrent Rain Misery in Dar Can Be Mitigated

Dar es Salaam was yesterday brought to a standstill by a daylong downpour, which left many parts of the city under water. The Tanzania Meteorological Authority has predicted two more days of heavy rain in the sprawling metropolis of more than 5 million inhabitants, which means that more misery is on the way.

Dar es Salaam is notorious for its woefully inadequate drainage system. Rain chaos is played out every year in the country's commercial capital.

It is unacceptable that the central business district, for example, should be flooded by a brief downpour, making it virtually impossible to get around the city.

The sight of drivers abandoning their stalled cars in floodwaters in the city centre and exiting through the windows is shameful, to say the very least.

Dar es Salaam, being Tanzania's most important city, is not a place where one would expect to see office workers being ferried through flooded roads in handcarts.

This is what happens when the drainage system in the city centre and other neighbourhoods are subjected to years of neglect. Routine maintenance of the drainage system, rudimentary as it is, is virtually non-existent.

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In places that are prone to floods--such as Mikocheni, Msasani and Kinondoni--the problem can be attributed to unplanned development, which has blocked the natural paths taken by floodwaters during heavy rains.

Residents have blocked these paths by putting up houses and business premises as the relevant authorities conveniently look the other way.

Ironically, these are the same people who bear the brunt of flooding such as the one that hit the city recently.

Whichever way one looks at it, there is no getting away from the conclusion that this is a problem of the city's own making.

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