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The vicious circle of road repairs: a call for sustainable solutions

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s vibrant economic heart has a network of roads that are essential for its residents and economic activities.

However, there are certain areas of the city where every rainy season brings about the same frustrating cycle: roads are repaired, only to deteriorate again shortly afterwards.

This ongoing cycle of road maintenance raises questions about the effectiveness and sustainability of current repair strategies, prompting residents to voice their concerns to the government.

One such area is the road passing by the Karume Market, where residents have long complained about the continued deterioration of the roads despite frequent repairs.

Mr. Jonathan Elvis, an entrepreneur at the market, reveals: “Every time it rains, we see plows repairing the roads. But within a few weeks, the same potholes appear again, and we wonder why the repairs don’t hold up.”

Similar sentiments are echoed by a shop owner in Muhimbili, Salmin Kulwa, who claims that the inclination to repair roads after every short stint in the area is questionable.

“They’re fixing the roads, and we’re grateful, but then the rain comes and it’s back to square one. It’s a waste of time and resources. I think it is necessary to investigate how they do not take the time when it rains to come and repair the potholes, but after a while they appear again, they use our taxes, so if they repair, they better take care of it that it is a well. job done and not coming and going after every few months; it looks like sabotage to the citizens,” he explains.

The root of the problem appears to lie in the quality of materials used and the methods used in road repairs.

Some residents point out that the repairs often appear superficial, using low-quality materials that cannot withstand the city’s weather conditions.

“It’s as if they are just renovating the surface without addressing the underlying problems,” notes Fatima, a resident of Ilala.

Furthermore, the lack of proper drainage systems exacerbates the problem. During heavy rainfall, water accumulates on the roads, weakening the asphalt and causing it to break down more quickly.

“We need better drainage systems to prevent water from collecting on the roads,” stressed John Kigume, a resident of Kinondoni.

However, residents are calling on the government to implement more sustainable road maintenance. They emphasize the importance of using durable materials and implementing effective drainage systems to ensure repairs last longer.

“Investing in quality materials may cost more up front, but it will save money in the long run by reducing the need for frequent repairs,” says Salma Ayubu, a Temeke resident.

Furthermore, another Temeke resident, Mrs. Daudi Maliki, notes: “We appreciate Tarura’s efforts, but we need solutions that can withstand the challenges of our climate.”

Moreover, residents are urging the government to involve local communities in the planning and implementation of road maintenance projects.

“We know our neighborhoods best. By involving us in the decision-making process, the government can ensure that repairs are tailored to our specific needs,” said Rahim Mfaume, a resident of Ilala.

The Chief Executive Officer of Tanzania Rural and Urban Roads Agency (Tarura), Engineer Victor Seff, explains that the agency is actively involved in road repair and maintenance efforts across the country, including in Dar es Salaam and other urban areas.

“We understand the importance of addressing the challenges residents face, such as the recurring deterioration of roads during rainy seasons, and we are working hard to implement sustainable solutions,” he said.

He further emphasized that the agency has an unwavering commitment to improving road infrastructure in both rural and urban areas across the country.

“We are committed to ensuring that all Tanzanians, regardless of their location, have access to safe and reliable transport networks, so when we see potholes, we will send our practitioners to fix them,” he says.

He adds that Tarura is focused on using resources efficiently and effectively to make lasting improvements to road infrastructure.

“We strive to use high-quality materials and apply best practices in construction and maintenance,” he adds.

In the 2023/2024 fiscal year, the Tanzania Rural and Urban Roads Agency (Tarura) was allocated a total of Sh818.02 billion for 21,709 km of road infrastructure rehabilitation. Of these funds, Sh710.31 billion consists of domestic funds, and Sh107.71 billion consists of foreign funds.