Adequate ‘diversions’ or ‘detours’ key in building and maintaining infrastructure


What you need to know:

  • Diversions are provided for the safe and efficient movement of traffic through or around the construction zones while protecting workers and equipment deployed. 

A fortnight or so ago, on a Sunday morning, I found myself having to traverse the length and width of the mammoth city of Dar es Salaam.

My driver suggested that there was a short-cut that we could use, which nevertheless had a stretch of an unmade piece of the road were to take.

As we drove through, the driver could tell which roads were “TANDROADS” and which ones were “TARURA” on the basis of their quality. This is a point worthy noting.

The two road construction authorities should know that the public, and road users in general, know who is doing a good job and who is not.

We soon came to a “ROAD CLOSED” sign, and a Maasai gentleman showing vehicles the route to pass.

Apparently, some road authority had awarded work to a contractor to make good a stretch of the road, which had remained undone for ages.

As it turned out, the contractor had invested little or nothing in an alternative road, as he constructed what he had to.

The alternative he thought would be used was an irregular winding road through one of the thickest unplanned areas, characteristic of Dar es Salaam.

It would be wide here, narrow there, and would make 90% turns in parts. In short, a winding path through a squatter area was inadequate as a diversion required to handle heavy traffic.

Within a short time, the diverted traffic had come to a gridlock, and steps required to get it unlocked and moving were not easy.

In some cases, it was necessary to ask house owners who had locked themselves behind solid gates, to open their gates so that some traffic can take refuge there while allowing some traffic to move.

It was chaos which brought a lot of economic activities in the area to a standstill for most of the day.

What was obvious was that the contractor had not invested, or had not been required to invest in a diversion.

And even as all this chaos was going on, there was nobody on the client’s side, or on the contractor’s side, to consult or to take official action to get the traffic to move.

There is a dire need to provide traffic diversion during road construction.

Diversions are provided for the safe and efficient movement of traffic through or around the construction zones while protecting workers and equipment deployed.

In addition, they provide continuity to the movement of motor vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrian traffic, transit operations and access to properties and utilities.

Indeed, all necessary measures for the safety of traffic during road construction need to be undertaken by providing or erecting barricades, including flags, lights, signs, markings, flagmen, for the protection and information of traffic passing through or approaching the section of the road under construction or improvement.

It would appear that little importance is given to diversion, safety and efficiency during road or other infrastructure construction or maintenance works.

It is common for contractors to dig up roads and proceed with what they are doing without caring a dime for the affected traffic and economic and social activities.

You find a “ROAD CLOSED” sign, but there is no indication as to which way you should go. Sometimes there is a “DIVERSION” sign but it does not lead you to where you should pass through to rejoin your earlier route.

Again, a few months back, the whole of Mbezi Beach area had been dug up to allow the installation of sewers, or, so, we were told.

There were no arrangements for the continuation of economic and social activities, during the time of construction or rehabilitation.

All the roads in the neighbourhood were just mud, mud, mud, and hardly any vehicular movement was possible.

Logic would have dictated the implementation of the works in phases, with some of the roads being left to allow the movement of traffic, which others were being made.

Those who talked to the contractor, were met with a “I do not care” attitude. Just nonchalance.

Indeed there are guidelines and specifications on what should be done to allow the smooth continuation of activities during construction or rehabilitation of infrastructure.

Before taking up any construction activity, an agreed phased programme for the diversion of traffic on the road under construction must be planned.

In our part of the world, it seems seem little attention is given to traffic diversion during the construction phase, and this results in manor inconveniences to the public, leading to the loss of an incalculable numbers of man-hours.

Responsible authorities including TANROADS, TARURA, DAWASA and others, please ensure that there is efficient traffic diversion during construction works.