Perhaps for the umpteenth time, different government authorities have once again reportedly come up with intentions to improve Dar es Salaam every which way one looks at it. The latest such intention was revealed recently by Dar es Salaam regional commissioner Abubakar Kunenge.
Addressing a meeting of the city’s elders on January 8 this year, Mr Kunenge said that the regional administrative headquarters were in talks with the ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development, “aiming to rescue the commercial city from constantly troubling floods”.
Noting that floods have continued “to kill people, damage properties and livelihoods – and putting the population at risk of diseases”, Mr Kunenge revealed that he has requested to dialogue with Lands minister William Lukuvi to review and evaluate the city’s land-map.
The aim is “to highlight the most adversely affected areas – and devise long term solutions,” the RC said.
How most comforting, we say in all fairness.
Founded in 1862 by Seyyid Majid, Dar es Salaam was declared a municipality in 1949 by the British government that was entrusted to administer the country by the League of Nations post-the First World War (1914-1918).
The metropolis was granted city status in 1961 following political independence from British rule – and has been administered by Tanzanians ever since.
Up until 2016, Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean coastline was the national capital, a status it relinquished in favour of the centrally-located Dodoma.
If this means nothing else, the possibility was huge that the city would be consigned to the back burner in terms of development – with the government turning its focus on Dodoma.
The case on the ground
But, this now seems not to be the case on the ground. This is especially taking into account RC Kunenge’s budding efforts at sprucing up Dar es Salaam – aided and abetted in that by the ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements Development.
However, the sprawling city of some six million population is still vulnerable to numerous challenges. These include – but are not limited to – seasonal floods; sea-level rise (largely due to climate change); coastal erosion; poor or insufficient socioeconomic infrastructure, and poor development planning.
So, while Mr Kunenge is talking about ending flooding, that is only part of the hydra-headed monster that plagues the metropolis.
Yet flooding is a major catastrophe, usually wreaking havoc with the Jangwani area, Msimbazi Valley, Mikocheni/Kunduchi, Kigamboni, etc. Floods play merry hell with transport, power, water and sanitation/waste infrastructure, as well as fishing, tourism and industrial facilities.
The metropolis has had assorted development plans down the years – the more recent being the 1979 Master Plan, the 1992 Strategic Urban Development Planning Framework, the 2002 Kinondoni Coastal Area Management Project, and the World Bank-supported Dar es Salaam Metropolitan Development Project.
However, none of the foregoing programmes has effectively banished the challenges – and, judging by the current situation, including the relentless climate change, unexpected pandemics and suchlike horrors – we can only hope and pray that the Kunenge/Lukuvi liaison will this time spawn wonders for Dar es Salaam and its denizens.