Roads upgrade open up Tanzania

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete

TANZANIA IS GEARING  to open up and also link itself with the world for business. A string of road projects prove this point. By the end of February reported Africa development bank,, the country boasted of 15 road upgrade projects totalling 1371kilometers. The projects said the bank, are at various stages of completion. A majority are  more than 50 per cent complete.

 This underscores the seriousness with which Tanzania is taking road construction. Just ten years ago, the country could hardly count four kilometres of tarmac road per 1000 km2.
 That number has now risen to 6.7 km per 1000km2 and is slated to reach 8.9 km by 2016. This will ease economic activity both within the country and across its borders.

The projects are jointly  funded by the government and  donors. The largest financiers are the African development bank and JICA who, in the financial year 2010/11 contributed a combined 29.6 per cent of the US$ 494.51 million invested on roads. The Tanzanian government contributed 64.5 per cent .  

Now African Development Fund (AFD), the soft loan lending window of the African
Development Bank (AfDB) has approved a US$237.1 million for road construction in Tanzania. The project will enhance road linkage in Tanzania, raising paved roads coverage to 8.9 Km per 1000KM2 from the current 6.7 km per 1000KM2. The project will also link the country with her neighbours thus easing road transport, not only in the country, but also in  the region.

The loan forms 65 per cent of the entire project cost estimated at US$360million. Other financiers of the project are: JICA, the Japanese development agency 29 per cent ($105 million) and the government of Tanzania ($18 million).

The project will tarmac 391 KM of road in the Tanzanian network namely: the 188 KM Dodoma -Babati and the 202KM Tunduru-Mangaka-Mtambaswala roads. Both  roads are missing links on the national and regional network. 

The Tunduru-Mangaka-Mtambaswala for instance lies in the Mtwara corridor, the transport hub originating from the Mtwara Port in the South of Tanzania. This corridor is a vital import/.export route for southern Tanzania and the neighbouring countries- Mozambique, Malawi and Zambia. The corridor is part of the SADC Regional Spatial Development Initiative (SDI) whose goal is to “attract private sector investment through adequate, reliable, cost-effective, efficient and seamless transport systems to reduce the cost of doing business,” says the evaluation report.

 Up in central Tanzania, the Dodoma-Babati road is a section of the trans-Africa highway that links several regions in the country and also links it with her neighbours in the north including Kenya and Ethiopia all the way to Cairo and also the South right up to Cape Town in South Africa.

These sections says the bank's evaluation report, are extensions of other projects that the bank also partially funded. These include Dodoma-Iringa and Tunduru-Namtumbo roads. The Dodoma –Babati section will link with the 260 KM long Iringa-Dodoma road to the south and the 244 KM Arusha-Namanga-Athi-River section to the east. This section is complete and operational

On the Mtwara corridor, the Tunduru-Mangaka-Mtambaswala joins the 193km long Tunduru-Namtumbo road  which links with the road and the Namtumbo-Songea road currently under construction.

Road upgrading opens up isolated areas linking them to centres of economic activity such as markets thus enabling trade which results in poverty reduction. The Tanzanian government has recognised the importance of roads in poverty alleviation in its development blue-print-vision 2025. In addition to developmental benefits, there are also benefits accruing to Motorists and travellers.

The benefits accruing to travelers include the reduction of travel time between destinations. For instance the journey between Dodoma and Babati will be cut by 40 per cent from 5 hours to three hours. Vehicle operating costs on the same road are expected to shrink by 33 per cent from $0.824 per vehicle kilometre to $0.555.

On Tunduru- Mangaka road travel time is expected to shrink to two and a half hour from three and a half hours a 30 per cent reduction. Vehicle operating costs on the same road are expected to shrink by 41per cent from $0.877 per vehicle kilometre to $0.516. Travel time between Tunduru and Mtambaswala is expected to shrink by 33 per cent to one hour from one and a half hours while vehicle operating costs will be cut by 43 per cent to $0.54 from $0.949. Apparently, this section is one of the most expensive sections to operate a vehicle in Tanzania.

The bank’s report says that it has mitigated the problem of delays in implementation of the projects by advance contracting to facilitate procurement and timely award of contracts. In effect, the projects that are expected to begin in 2013 and be completed within three years will start on time. A frequent traveller on Tanzanian roads has confirmed that there is some activity on the Dodoma -Babati road


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