More infrastructure Money for Tanzania

THE AFRICAN DEVELOPMENT Bank has committed a further US$700 million for transport infrastructure in Tanzania over the period 2014-2016, we can report. Of the amount, improvement of all roads will take the largest chunk of US$400 million, Development of Bagamoyo Port ($10 m), improvement of Port efficiency $150M); improvement of railways ($100m) says an AfDB report.  The report also breaks down the funds to roads as follows: trunk roads $200Million; rural roads S50 million and sustainable urban transport $150 million.

The report, Tanzania Transport Sector Review states that AfDB will focus on transport infrastructure as an enabling sector of the economy. The Tanzania transport sector faces a myriad of hurdles, chief among them poor infrastructure, which then becomes a bottleneck to economic growth and integration.  For instance, of the 12,786 KM of trunk roads, only about 4000KM of 32 per cent, are bitumen standard. And of these, 409 Km are in poor state, says the report.  Large sections of the country have no Bitumen standard roads, making access to the market for products from certain regions, difficult.

 Consequently, says AfDB, there is need for large investments in roads transport sector. The bank has also funded other roads in the country.  For instance, by the end of February 2012, said another report, the banks was financing 15 road upgrade projects totalling 1371kilometers. The projects said the bank, are at various stages of completion. A majority are at more than 50 per cent completion. Such investment has seen bitumen road ratio from 4.2 kilometres per 1000KM2 to 6.7 km per 1000km2 and is slated to reach 8.9 km by 2016 easing road transport, not only in the country, but also the region.

The new loans comes hot on the heels of a  US$360million jointly funded by the Bank, JICA, the Japanese development agency 29 per cent ($105 million) and the government of Tanzania ($18 million).

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

The Tunduru-Mangaka-Mtambaswala 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.

Road upgrading, says the Review, opens up isolated areas by linking them to centres of economic activity such as markets thus enabling trade which results in poverty reduction. The Tanzanian government also recognises the importance of roads in poverty alleviation in its long term development blue-print-vision 2025.

In addition to developmental benefits, there are also benefits accruing to Motorists and travellers.
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 41 per 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.

 Further, poor roads are part of the causes for the high cost of goods in Tanzania. It is also a non-tariff barrier for Tanzania goods in the regional markets. In addition improvement in transport infrastructure is necessary to ease congestion at the Port of Dar-es-Salaam and ensure the proposed Bagamoyo Port does not turn into a white elephant.


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