Machinga Complex stands idle as Dar hawkers fill streets

Monday November 07 2016
pic machinga complex

Small traders sell goods on the pavement of kawawa road in the city even the Machinga complex remains empty in the background. PHOTO|SALIM SHAO

Dar es Salaam. Busy roads, streets and open spaces in the city are filled with hawkers and small traders. But a business park constructed six years ago to accommodate thousands of hawkers and small traders is lying idle at the centre of the Ilala municipality.

Known as “Machinga complex” with Machinga literally meaning “hawkers” in colloquial Swahili, the facility has standing at the Karume area like a whate elephant and is now being used for activities other than those originally intended when the Dar es Salaam City Council, the owners of the property, started renting out spaces in 2010.

The Sh12.7 billion complex now being used as an artisanal centre where shoemakers conduct their business and those looking for cheap space to store their goods find home. Some small vocational and technical college operators. have also found space to conduct their activities. While, at the same time it also provides office space for non-government organisations looking for cheap spaces.

The complex, built out of a loan from the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) is also being used as a production centre for food caterers who supply food for hundreds of traders in the vicinity.

Machinga Complex is located in Lindi Street in the Ilala municipality and surrounded by a number of active small traders’ markets, namely Ilala Mchikichi, Ilala Boma and Kariakoo. These markets are filled to capacity with other traders spreading their wares on the ground. But a few metres away the Machinga complex lies idle.

Almost 10 years have passed since the construction of the business park that was designed to end the problem of lack of facilities for hawkers and small traders was completed.


Many stalls in the complex, which has two blocks which have five floors and three units each, remain empty. Customers rarely visit the complex to do shopping despite the fact that it is located a few metres from a bus stop. Those traders who use their stalls as storage facilities have employed hawkers who sell the goods in nearby streets and markets.

Vendors who spoke to The Citizen said problems with the complex started with the design of the complex, the location and failure to meet certain standards that would be conducive for a business park. They said the structure is located in an area that is difficult to reach. Worst still there are well established markets in the vicinity such as the Mchikichini, Ilala and Kariakoo markets, which are easily accessible posing competition to the complex. The Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) last year created a bus stop near the complex to pick and drop customers, but this has still not helped increase the number of customers in the complex.

But the complex has also no car park. It has no lifts that could make it easier for customers and vendor reach higher floors.

A tenant at the complex Mr Hebroni Mwansele, 55, says the complex is half-empty because traders have refused to rent premises there due to lack of customers.

“The building was supposed to contain an underground car park and lifts, which are all missing,” he said.

He says he moved in the Machinga complex in 2012 with high expectations about his business. “But things are not as I expected. I deal in beverages but I rarely sell even a bottle. I have had to employ hawkers to go and sell my products in the streets and nearby markets,” he said.

He adds that the hawkers can bring in between Sh30, 000 and Sh40, 000 each per day while he cannot sell more than Sh5000 per day in the complex.

Haika Jacob, 35, is a food caterer. She moved at the complex in 2013 from the Kurasini area her business premise was demolished by the government on grounds that she was doing business in an open space. “There is no business here. I can barely sell enough food to pay the rent. At Kurasini I used to make good business,” she told The Citizen. She said that at Kurasini, she had employed four laborers but she had to lay-off two of them after moving to the complex.

Peter Gwikama is a tenant at the complex. His main activity is making Masai sandals and school shoes. After making the shoes he distributes them to various clients in the country and beyond. The production process of his products is not done entirely at the complex.

“I do not have enough capital to buy machines for sewing the shoes. I have to use the services of people with such machines,” he says. “Currently I make about 20 to 30 pairs a day but if I had my own machines I would produce about 100 pairs because most of my clients are from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi,” he said. Mr Gwikama explained that he needed capital of about Sh5 million but his efforts to secure a bank loan have so far failed.