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Relief finally over Kilwa Road

The road to densely populated Mbagala and other parts of Temeke District in Dar es Salaam is also a major outlet to the southern regions of Lindi and Mtwara and an alternative route to the Southern Highland regions of Iringa and Mbeya through Masasi and Songea in Ruvuma Region. In fact as a major exit from the city, it ranks in importance as Morogoro Road and Bagamoyo Road as the only two other outlets to the hinterland. But for years, Kilwa Road was a nightmare. It was a huge relief therefore when it was finally earmarked for construction and works actually started in 2008.


But alas, it soon transpired that the road being built was very much below standards. In fact a popular joke was that the authorities had only shown the people the architectural drawings for the road and that the real road would probably follow in future! That future has apparently arrived and the people were probably right. But a question to be asked is: Where were the relevant authorities when the road was being built below standards? And, what assurance do the people have even the said reconstruction which starts in May after the end of the rainy season won’t be below standards?


In any case, the road should have been rebuilt now so that it lives the test of withstanding or otherwise, the onslaught of the heavy rains expected from February in order to prove its durability. For a very long time one lane of the dual carriageway at Mission area was closed to traffic because rains eroded the under surface of a ridge that was erected to fill a valley and level the road.
Even a non engineer clearly saw that the area needed a bridge but our contractors and works engineers all settled for a landfill, which was basically going against the dictates of the elements.

The asphalt used for paving the road was perhaps of the worst type as were also the piling and compacting of the base layers of the road to the extent that all the 12 kilometres became uneven and wavy even before it was officially launched! Anyway, the people thanked the authorities for showing them how the road was supposed to appear. Mwalimu Nyerere once said the difference between corruption involving construction jobs in Africa and Asia was that in Asia at least something was visible on the ground. In Africa, oftentimes, nothing was ever visible at all.


While we are happy that the road shall be rebuilt, we are at the same time not too proud because we were taken for a ride before. As usual, Dr Magufuli almost recited from his fingertips the new specifications to be used for the rebuilt road. Very impressive indeed. But were those specifications not known before? I like to believe they were the same specifications that Kajima were required to use and comply to in their their earlier job. That they chose to ignore the specifications is probably the bigger scandal than even lamenting over the fact that the road was built below standards. 


I am not an engineer and stand to be corrected but it is common knowledge that every major construction contract is supervised by a sight engineer whose word is usually final for the quality needed and his signature vital for the staggered release of funds by the paying authorities. In this case it would appear, the engineer was nodding his head for every stage reached, which is why funds were released. There is a misconception that grants do not amount to part of our taxpayers’ money. One definition of a grant states as follows: “Bounty, contribution, gift, or subsidy (in cash or kind) bestowed by a government or other organisation (called the grantor) for specified purposes to an eligible recipient (called the grantee).

Grants are usually conditional upon certain qualifications as to the use, maintenance of specified standards, or a proportional contribution by the grantee or other grantor(s).” (Emphasis mine). Granted, the government of Japan released the major part of the funding for the construction of the road but our people also have a stake in the entire transaction. In any case, given the almost one sided trade between Tanzania and Japan, the country ends up paying by far more than what it receives from the Far East nation. One need only look at our roads. All the vehicles are almost from Japan save for a few Scania trucks and buses.


It makes good business sense for Japan to help Tanzania have good roads because the country will them buy more vehicles and more spare parts and therefore help to sustain Japanese jobs even when our own unemployment rate burgeons. But as I said before, the people are happy that the road is being rebuilt because in its present state, it is a terrible nightmare to drive along the 12 kilometre wavy and potholed road.  It is only by providence that it hasn’t turned into a “hell run.”  Fine, Kajima will rebuild the road. But do they really qualify after what they did to get more construction jobs in Tanzania? My simple take is they don’t anymore otherwise no one shall ever respect us again for being a serious nation. Or are we? 

I know I have a very forgetful ...

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Author: Mboneko Munyaga

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