Dar es Salaam. Flash floods left scores of Dar es Salaam residents counting their losses once more this week in what seems to have turned into a perennial problem for city fathers.
Whenever there is a heavy downpour, an aerial view of the commercial capital gives one the picture of one huge lake, leaving many wondering whether or not there ever will be a way out. The latest floods wreaked havoc across the port city of an estimated 5 million people, paralysing transport infrastructure, leaving most major roads impassable and causing untold suffering among thousands of commuters.
Perhaps among the biggest victims are commuters using the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit buses that were forced off the road after the Jangwani section of the Morogoro road was closed.
Businesses closed too - a loss that the owners will probably be counting in weeks and months to come. At least 14 people died after the three-day downpourat the weekend. But the question that many are asking is whether there is an end in sight to the problem of flooding in the city. Mr Isaya Mwita, the city mayor, suggests that the problem has thrived on an outdated master plan.
This means that Dar es Salaam, one of the fastest growing cities in Africa, has been rapidly expanding yet the master plan remained the same. The current plan was designed in 1979 when the city had barely 1 million residents.
Some legislators from Dar es Salaam constituencies say the lack of political will to address the issues has compounded the problem. “Is there political will to find a permanent solution to the floods in our city? I doubt.
Our advice has always been ignored, for years,” Mr Abdallah Mtolea, the MP for Temeke (CUF) told The Citizen. He questioned, for example, why billions of shillings that were allocated to the Temeke District through the Dar es Salaam Metropolitan Development Project(DMDP), are never disbursed.
“We need the funds to construct modern drainage systems in Temeke District, but the money has not been disbursed since 2016,” Mr Mtolea noted.
Mbagala MP Issa Mangungu says he has also tried to urge the City Council and the President’s Office (Regional Authorities and Local Governments) to disburse the DMDP money in vain.
“In Mbagala, for example, a budget of Sh2 billion was allocated as compensation for houses that have to be demolished to pave the way for the construction of drainage systems, but nothing has been done until now.
The money is there waiting for signatures,” Mr Mangungu noted. But the mayor, Mr Mwita, says despite everything that has happened, the city council has not relaxed.
“We are working day and night to address the flooding problem in the city through the DMDP.
Meanwhile, we are asking people to stop constructing in flood-prone wetlands,” he said. Lands, Housing and Human Settlement Development minister William Lukuvi says a review of the 1979 Dar es Salaam City Master Plan has started with the taking of aerial photos of the whole city.
This is taking place as the city authorities implement the DMDP. According to the Dar es Salaam City Executive Director, Ms Sipora Liana, a joint meeting was to take place yesterday bringing together representatives from all five municipal councils that form the Dar es Salaam City, to find short term measures to curb floods. Dr Jasmine Tisekwa, a Special Seats MP, told Parliament on Tuesday that the flooding was a symptom of the a bigger problem.