Friday, December 28, 2007

RTF: Those Congested Dar Streets

I hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas. Mine was terrific. Got together with some friends, had nyama choma and plenty of other foods. Of course we had a wonderful time just relaxing and having a wonderful conversation. May be it is my “old” age or something, but I don’t get excited about Christmas as I used to when I was a little boy. There was something magical about Christmas time then.

Oh well, I will just let my kids take my place of Christmas enjoyment. May be, as a parent, seeing the twinkle in my kids’ eyes would rekindle something magical in me.

My experience has been that during Christmas, Dar-es-Salaam becomes a “ghost” town. All my friends from the northern side of the country (you know who) always head back migombani for Christmas celebration. May be to show off a few shillings skimmed in Dar-es-Salaam or just to have a good time with friends and family. Regardless, other folks too tend to head “home” for Christmas.

On any other time during the year, Dar-es-Salaam streets tend to be crowded with cars and people. When my brother first came to the United States, he was surprised to learn that downtown Columbus was not crowded; particularly during the hours that Dar-es-Salaam would be going insane. What he missed was the fact that Americans, for the most, part do work. That means you won’t find folks taking long lunch hours, gossiping or running personal errands during typical work hours. Right there, you can conclude that Dar streets gets crowded with folks who could otherwise be sitting at their desk, producing.

Apart from the cultural reasons (work ethic) that contribute to the crowding of the Dar-es-Salaam streets, technical reasons, in my opinion, make a huge contribution. The city’s infrastructure cannot handle the growing population and economic growth that has resulted in an unbelievable number of cars imported annually. Putting aside those statistical numbers, there is unexplainable concentration of businesses in the city center and Kariakoo.

I think it is crazy that someone would board a daladala from Mwenge just to buy onions at Kariakoo! But that is happening. You know what is crazy? The Temeke and Kinondoni municipalities are just letting Ilala run the City! I know probably vigogo in Kinondoni do not want the Kariakoo-type hustle in their neighborhood, but at least that would help decongest Dar city center.

I have just described the internal workings of the City. You what else contributes to the insanity in Dar-es-Salaam? It is the stupid concentration of power within the government. I know these guys talked about Madaraka Mikoani stuff. That is a bunch of rhetoric. The show is still being run from Dar-es-Salaam.

Honestly, I think something of the services that are typically offered Wizarani only could be offered at a regional and district level. Let me give you an example. You want a birth certificate? Good. You have to start from the ward to the district level to process your application, but the actual stinking piece of paper must be issued in Dar-es-Salaam! Try to imagine just one single office serving over 30 million people! Honestly, does it really mean that Vizazi na Vifo folks in Dar-es-Salaam are more qualified to issue birth and death certificate that those at the district level? Try to imagine someone coming all the way from Kigoma, spending about TShs 100,000 for a document that is worth TShs 2,000.

I think that we justify Dr. Watson’s theory of African’s lack of intelligence unnecessarily. Really.

The birth certificate issue is just one simple example. There is a host of other matters that an ordinary Tanzania makes a follow-up in Dar-es-Salaam unwarranted. There are such issues are business registration, issuance of a secondary school certificates, etc that one has to be in Dar-es-Salaam for. The effect of that has been that the City gets crowded. Of all those people you see standing at the new Post Office's daladala stand, chances are that 30% of them are from upcountry, following up something at a government office in Dar!

The most damaging effect, in my opinion, is that concentration of power on one individual at a ministry to serve 35 million Tanzanians leads to only evil – corruption. Sluggishness you see at government offices, especially those charged with offering some kind of service to the general public, is by design. That provides an incentive for kitu kidogo, as customer is typically left with no alternative. One is forced to either wait for 5 years to get a service that would take 10 minutes or part with an incentive that would speed up the process.

I think the three-lane idea to decongest the Dar roads was good, but there is much more that contributes to congestion of the City in general. One of them is the fact that Madaraka Mikoani is just a political hoax, with no practical meaning. If you still have to get some basic services in Dar, then what is the government decentralization for?


Sam GM said...


Great points here, and it really gets into my nerves that the ministers and wabunge only go to Dodoma kula na kunywa in those bunge debates. It has come to be a fashion that nowadays when they go to Dodoma, the show starts running when some of them try to prove to the rest that they have got more money than others.

Taking more services to wananchi would not only solve the Dar decongestion but would make mwananchi appreciate more the government. Dodoma has retain the capital city name but has nothing to show for and all that is because of our leaders short vision.

sam gm

Jaduong Metty said...


I know that most governments are not efficient, but wouldn't you expect that somethings are just a matter of common sense?

I thought the Kasi Mpya would include the overhaul of service delivery to wananchi, but if you can't fulfill the intended objective of a government website ( then what else can these people do?

Sam GM said...


It is common sense as you put it, however most leaders lack this common sense, for once they do not know how to plan or strategize their visions. I bet when Mr Kikwete begged wananchi to elect him president by promising miasha bora kwa kila mtanzania, he had no strategy or plans on how to achieve it. That is why last week he was trying to justify that all that he had earlier promised are the plans that are concrete and stretch to the end of his first five years. What does that tell you, that come the end of his five years, he will be begging wananchi to give him five more years so that he can carry on and conclude all his startegies that are still in place. I guess I am tired with these leaders that come back to us claiming that they only need another term kumalizia kazi.

With proper planning which include short and long term plans, you can easily strategize on how to achieve maisha bora in phases rather that giving people plausible non commital empty words.

sam gm