Downpours in Dar don’t make news any longer and it’s thanks to our Creator that they aren’t killing anyone nowadays as they used to kill in the past. We’ve learnt how to perch ourselves on the rooftops and treetops to remain safe! Or flee our endangered houses altogether—and return when the rains have gone away!
Motorists quickly abandon their cars and waddle to safety before their machines are all swallowed up…or dragged towards the Indian Ocean by speeding waters. “Gari kitu gani? Uhai wangu kwanza!” one car owner was heard saying as he settled for a beer in a roadside bar.
The man had just watched his saloon, which he had just escaped from, being swept away after he miraculously pulled himself out. The engine of his newly bought mtumba Toyota conked when it was just a couple of feet from the bank of a just-created river that was swelling rapidly.
As we partake of our drinks, the talk is on the ongoing rains messing up everybody and everywhere. Some houses, including those in the so-called planned areas, have been rendered unreachable by vehicles, including the normally unbeatable mashangingi. Commercial parking yards we call “Eneo la CCM” or simply, “CCM”, are doing good business—that is, when they too aren’t waterlogged and rendered unreachable.
“We’re paying the price of poor planning and underdeveloped infrastructure,” says a drinker at our table of four (today you missed a spot at the counter, which drinkers consider safer and a little comfortable, for there you escape the torture of having a drink with your feet ankle deep into water that at times fills the drinking arena).
Another drinker (call him Hatibu) agrees, but notes that it’s not the government alone which is to blame. “You see, even when the government constructs drainage systems, we clog them by converting them into garbage dumps,” says Hatibu. He’s right, you say to yourself.
Another drinker talks of violation of land development regulations. The man—call him Freddy— gives the example of Mbezi Beach, where only the affluent live. “This is a surveyed area where only the cream of Bongo’s elite can afford, but look at what they’ve done?” he poses.
“What have they done?” you ask, for much as you’ve an idea of what he’s lamenting about, you let him explain. It’s his story.
“They’ve ignored the plans and, like in most of Dar’s surveyed areas, Mbezi Beach has degenerated into a slum, an up-market slum,” charges Freddy.
He talks of open spaces that have been grabbed; two or even three medium density plots that some greedy developers have fenced as one, blocking ways through which floods would find their way to the sea… Properties neighbouring such stupidity get flooded, with water finding their way through the windows!
“And strangely, among such greedy developers are our most educated compatriots,” concludes Freddy
“Educated? Educated my foot!” spits this tablemate seated next to you. You understand.