IT was a different scenario at the junction of Nyerere Road and Nelson Mandela Expressway in Dar es Salaam, yesterday, as the long awaited Mfugale Flyover finally opened its roads to traffic.
The junction, a notorious spot for heavy traffic jams in the city, was almost deserted with vehicles passing through the area smoothly, marking an end to an era of inconveniences and delays for users of the road.
Gone are the days when people will have to use two to three hours to travel to and from the City Centre to the airport, due to long traffic jams thanks to the much-awaited magnificent overpass.
Speaking over the phone, the Director of Tanzania Information Services (Maelezo), Dr Hassan Abbas , disclosed that the flyover has been opened for use until the official launch penciled for next month.
And, wananchi from different parts of the city, yesterday, flocked the Tazara junction to witness vehicles passing through the iconic flyover. Excitement and relief gripped the public as they watched in awe vehicles cruising past the bridge, with no traffic jams to talk about.
"This (flyover) is among things which never crossed people’s minds that one day they could see them with their own eyes... we used to believe that such can only occur in developed countries," said one Juma Ramadhan, who was staring with amusement while vehicles pass over the flyover.
Majority of the people commended President John Magufuli’s efforts saying that he deserves praise for ensuring the project is completed on time.
"We should always pray for our President because he has shown the way for coming leaders in Tanzania and other African countries," said an elderly mother who had come to witness the historic event.
The spectators, however, advised that there is need to put up rules that will ensure better management of the flyover.
“Daladalas should be restricted from passing through the flyover ....they should be used by vehicles heading to and from the airport,” said one spectator.
On the other hand, a commuter aboard a city bound commuter bus, Mr Abel Masanja, said that he had a great experience using the road and did not have to wait for many hours in a traffic jam.
“I did not encounter any traffic jam the entire distance, of which for this road it’s a desired experience. I only had to stop for a while at the Vingunguti traffic lights, but apart from that the road was clear.
Mr Masanja rather showed his concern on the shifting of traffic jam to Chang’ombe and Vingunguti traffic lights, where he said permanent solutions should be sought.
He further commended the good initiative, recommending that it should be adopted for other chaotic areas. Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) Chief Executive Officer, Eng Patrick Mfugale said that the flyover has improved traffic management as vehicles heading to the Airport from the City Centre spent a few minutes, while those from Ubungo spend 20 minutes instead of one hour and thirty minutes used prior to the construction of the bridge.
Eng Mfugale said that the first flyover in the country with guaranteed durability of 100 years has the capacity of accommodating 180 tonnes at a go.
“This flyover will help to ease traffic jams at Tazara junction thus people should hope that the problem has been addressed,” he said.
The country’s historic flyover has been constructed, thanks to a 4.847 billion Yen (over 92bn/-) grant from the Japanese government through the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).
The Tanzanian government injected in the project 8.46bn/-.
The flyover is set to be named after TANROADS Chief Executive Officer, Engineer Patric Mfugale as per President Magufuli’s directive when launching the 384-metre bridge in Kilombero last May.