Msimbazi basin dwellers’ hopes high over WB project

Floods in a section of Dar es Salaam following heavy rains in the city in December 2011.

PHOTO | FILE

Summary

  • This is after the World Bank (WB) showed interest to finance the $260 million for the project

Dar es Salaam. Residents along the Msimbazi River basin in Dar es Salaam yesterday raised hopes over the implementation of Msimbazi anti-floods project.

This is after the World Bank (WB) showed interest to finance the $260 million for the project, with another Sh600 billion coming from Spain and the Netherlands aimed at countering flood effects for Dar residents.

Residents along Msimbazi River and Jangwani area who spoke to The Citizen welcomed the new Msimbazi Basin Development Project which is set to kick off this financial year, saying it will completely change the face of the City.

Twahiri Mkiza, a 56-year old says the project will restore residents’ confidence which they lost for years.

A vehicle seat cover and motorcycle safety guard maker in the area says the 2020 floods made him lose almost everything after a huge part of his house and office was flooded.

“I lost at least Sh5 million during the 2020 floods, Sh1.2 million worth of safeguards, orders from a businessman in Karagwe, (Kagera) was damaged,” he recalls.

He adds: “After the floods, I focused on repairing my house and office. I had to start my business from the scratch,” he says.

Mr Mkiza says, he is now living in fear and without confidence to buy precious items for use in the house because of the possibility of floods.

According to him, with the current flood trend, it was hard to get a peaceful sleep when it rains at night as he keeps recalling of the past floods.

Tarpaulin maker, Isack Faustine said until the project commences, he would be in a position to say a word or two over the anti-flooding project.

“I have heard about this project since 2014, nothing has been realised until now,” he said adding that he was waiting for the government to walk the talk on the project, says a 22-year old Isack.

There were almost no business done in the area during rainy season, especially whenever there is heavy downpour, he says, adding that normally people are used to flee their homes to save their lives, returning weeks or months after flood waters have receded from the surface.

According to him, his hard earned Television set, mattresses were all damaged and swept away with floods including cloths in 2020.

But Hemed Kingazi, a car electrician residing in the area is optimistic that the project will be implemented and will boost business in the area.

A 25-year old Hemed, also a flood victim says after the flood damaged his office in 2020, it became so difficult for him to start over.

“With the coming project, we will have the peace of mind. Businesses will be running smoothly,” he exudes his optimism.

A local government official in the area, Nassoro Zuberi says with the project in question, floods and fear among residents in the area will be a thing of the past.

“Floods have been claiming the lives of people,” says a 62-year old Nassoro, as official data shows at least 40 people died in 2011 with another 12 of them losing their lives in 2020 floods. Mr Zuber who has been living in the area for 30 years now says families in the area were forced to relocate for a while during floods, with some sleeping on the roadside, which also affects the country’s economy. Floods are common in Dar es Salaam, with the Msimbazi River basin being the most affected part of the city, where an average of 950,000 cubic metres of soil are displaced each year. Few days ago, the Tanzania Rural and Urban Roads Agency (Tarura) director general Victor Seif said in Dodoma that the anti-flood project was expected to officially start on December 31, this year and will be implemented in six years.

He said, the bridge bridge construction in the area (along Morogoro Road) will take not more than three years and working on the river basin will also take less than three years, as will be disclosed at the signing of the contract with developers.

Experts, he said were already working on various stages of the project implementation, especially the architectural design of the bridge.

Similarly, preparations for key documents on social and environmental impact of the project have been completed.

According to him, the feasibility study and design for the project would be completed in December this year, followed by the process to pick the contractor which is expected to start from November 2022 this month before the actual construction begins in this 2022/23 fiscal year.

Dar es Salaam, with six million people (according to the 2012 population and housing census), accounts for 40 percent of Tanzania’s total urban population and 17 percent of national GDP and was growing at a rate of 5.6 percent annually. It is projected to become a mega city with over 10 million residents by 2030.

On Tuesday this week, the World Bank said in a statement from Washington DC that its board of executive directors had approved a $200 million financing package that will help to reduce the flood exposure to over 300,000 people, many being low-income communities, while providing access to better infrastructure and services.

It will be co-financed through a $30 million credit from the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and a 30 million euro grant from the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs.