Kigamboni is a remarkable part of Dar es Salaam. Just a short ferry ride from the heart of the metropolis and you are in the countryside. It is astonishing how it has been overlooked in city planning.
A bridge across the creek has been on the agenda for at least fifteen years. A visit to Vijibweni last week by John Magufuli, our reputedly can-do Minister for Infrastructure, has raised hopes that it may finally take off. As reported by Haki Ngowi:
[the National Social Security Fund] expects to start construction of the bridge early this year after after advertising the tender and getting a contractor. The Kigamboni Bridge is expected to cost TZS 130 billion.
Plus ça change. Given that it’s now the end of March, it’s hard to know what is meant by ‘early this year’ and how it will still be ‘early this year’ once the tender process has been completed. But there is a bigger question: is a bridge the best use of well over USD 80 million?
Two bottlenecks block: the development of Kigamboni – the ferry from the city centre and the mayhem at Mbagala Rangi Tatu which holds up traffic taking the long way around to Kigamboni via Kongowe. Congestion there is caused by the abrupt ending of the dual carriageway followed by what can only be described as an open space – about 70 metres wide and 500 long. Cost of completing the dual carriageway so that it segues neatly into the final unattached stretch of Kilwa Road? About USD 1 million, I’m told. Not much.
At the other end, ferry congestion is easily tackled by redeveloping the area around the ferry dock on the Kigamboni side to improve traffic flow and improving roads running away from it – and ensuring that they have dedicated space for the great number of bicycles and three wheel flat beds that run those routes. That should eat up another few million.
Then let’s throw the remainder at very basic issues like maintenance of existing roads, drainage, extension of the Tanesco grid and waste management.
But obvious steps won’t be taken because they are not as simple as they look. They demand some joined up thinking and planning, an examination of options and involvement of people and government at all levels. Talk about throwing money at a bridge is cheap and easy. And throwing up a bridge under current planning norms will just lead to a boom in uncontrolled chaotic development and Kigamboni will turn into another Mbagala.
And of course Kigamboni is just indicative. In Mtwara and Mchuchuma power plants are being planned without transmission lines. And of course in Loliondo Minister Magufuli has been taking the old man’s one cup cure and has promised TZS 1 billion to develop the road to Samunge village – money which, let’s face it, the dogs in the street know Tanroads doesn’ t have.
So, bora kujenga daraja?
*With apologies to my friends in Daraja and also Mrisho Mpoto.