Will our “beloved” Dar es Salaam (Dar) city ever be clean and tidy? I have known Dar for a very long time, since January 1968, that is! I have seen it evolve from a manageable, clean and green city to the now mightier but chaotic and filthy Metropolis.
We used to see health officers paying regular visits to residences, business premises and neighborhoods for monitoring and enforcing basic health and hygiene requisites.
It was unusual, then, to encounter smelly overflowing pit latrines or sewage water flooding the streets or clogged drains right in our front-yards.
In all, the city was clean, safe and pleasant. Not anymore! Today’s residents are not as hygiene-conscious and compliant as their predecessors.
Why? Most of us love foreign cities and countries for their cleanliness. If so, why don’t we keep ours equally clean?
We don’t need to go far from home: Kigali is just nearby. It’s a city with a difference, standing far apart from other African metropolises.
It’s tidy, vibrant, welcoming! For Tanzanians who have been to Kigali and Singapore, the similarities between the two is striking: no trash, no discarded bottles or plastics, no uncollected refuse, no paper, no potholes, no road dust or grit, no dirt.
Pure beauty! Perhaps we may coin a new Kiswahili word “Ukigali” (Kigali-like) to infer “cleanliness or tidiness”.
Surely, the Kigali city council must be paying for street cleaners, but it’s because of robust supervision, routine clean up campaigns, answerable management and a responsive, hygiene conscious population that have turned Kigali into one of the world’s neatest. Benchmark Kigali against Dar, and you have two diametric opposites.
They are sun and earth apart. Kigali’s residents revere cleanliness. Dar’s residents simply don’t care.
Or else, why would storm water drains be clogged to the brim by plastic bottles and other solid waste; unattended bushes thrive in our front yards; sewage water swarm our streets; uncollected and rotting garbage lie on the streets and on roadsides or excessive road dust (even from paved roads) congest our noses and throats? If it baffles me, it should baffle you too!
A 2013-Forbes Magazine listed Dar as one of the dirtiest. Has anything changed since then? Certainly not! Things have gotten even worse.
That’s why another report by “Environwise” of 2018 noted that 60 per cent of the waste generated in Dar was uncollected, “choking” up open spaces, playing grounds, roadsides, storm water drains, rivers and waterways.
Where are the City authorities and NEMC? Why has Dar become deplorably dirty and disorderly, and worryingly, no one seems to care?
The infamous, substandard structures randomly erected by the Machingas and Mama Lishes on the roadsides and streets are a messier addition to an already ugly scenario. Dar is an eyesore!
Every available spot on the city’s highways, byways and pedestrian lanes has been taken by them, totally disregarding pedestrians, cyclists, the disabled and others.
Recall, JPM Government’s “deal” with these petty hawkers was temporary, pending the provision of permanent “business parks” by the City Council from where they would peddle their wares.
Please, may the City authorities restore sanity on the streets and roadsides? I bet, if cleanliness and tidiness were the only criteria for a city’s worth, Dar wouldn’t have qualified. We habitually turn open spaces into dumping grounds.
Litter and debris, in our neighborhoods and especially in our local markets, remain uncollected for weeks and sometimes months. Chillingly, the local markets, where we get our daily provisions including fruits and veggies, are the filthiest. Uncollected and untreated waste is home for mice, cockroaches, flies and mosquitoes.
They make perfect breeding grounds for disease vectors. Do we wonder why we have high incidences of malaria, dengue, cholera, dysentery and other infectious diseases? Equally, doesn’t it occur to the authorities that the rampant use of rivers and rivulets by city residents as sewers (to convey sewage to sea or low-lying areas) is a major health risk? Why haven’t we, 60 years on, connected even half of the city’s population with sewers that lead to treatment plants or oxidation ponds?
Can’t we formulate regulations and byelaws that are enforceable, “monitorable” and in case of noncompliance, prosecutable? Can’t we mandate every household or property owner to have trash bins according to type of garbage (plastics, glass, paper, food waste, etc.) and make sure that they’re emptied daily? How comes that newly constructed surfaced roads are littered as soon as they’re inaugurated?
Why do foot-deep potholes remain unrepaired for months, even years? Upkeep of infrastructure in Dar is grossly wanting. Why do we have more 4WDs in our cities than in rural areas? Yet, our city fathers are shamelessly boasting that they want to make Dar the Dubai of Tanzania.
Do they know what it has taken Dubai to become what it’s? Or Kigali, Abuja and Tunis? These officials must be made to account for their utterances or else, removed from their positions.
They can’t appease us with fantasies. Dar is disorderly in other ways too. Motorcyclists, tricyclists and daladalas never obey traffic rules, making driving in the city a nightmare even for the versed.
They would stop when and where they want, even at the middle of the road (thus obstructing all traffic); stop abruptly without the courtesy of signaling; run red lights or stop signs at will; or impulsively abandon lanes and ride/drive on the hard and soft shoulders without a sense of guilt.
They break the highway codes with impunity, without the slightest inclination of the dangers or harm they may inflict on others. For them, compliance with the traffic regulations is only for the “lame”. Sadly, it’s the “lame” (we, the lawabiding motorists) who fall easy prey to the Traffic Police.
We’re ticketed and fined for unintentional offences that result from the recklessness of the impatient “trio”. Why are they left scot free? Driving on the road shoulders speeds destruction of the road. No wonder the otherwise high-quality Port Access Dual Carriageway is crumbling so fast. And so are roadside pavements and sidewalks elsewhere.
Where is TANROADS or TARURA, whoever is responsible for the oversight and maintenance of these roads? Again, talking about these two agencies, why don’t they reinvest into new and decent parking lots from the fees they charge us daily?
Apparently, we pay parking fees for “non-existent” or at best, poorly improvised parking lots. Visit Kariakoo during the day and witness a chaotic jumble of the unimaginable, virtually making it a nogo area.
Roads around the Kariakoo Market Complex and Congo, Msimbazi & Uhuru Streets are the most crammed.
Pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles, local gutas, vehicles, Machingas, food vendors and countless more, scramble for the same road, making it a toxic recipe for accidents.
Don’t take your premium vehicle there. Perhaps a more pertinent question is, how would the Police, Fire Department or Ambulance respond to an emergency in ,case of one? Hey, by the way, which street and house number do you live?
Any respondent would be enveloped in deep silence! Lack of street names, house numbers and street lighting are additional shortcomings of Dar.
It renders accessibility to parts of the city physically challenging, posing an extra constraint on the Police, Fire, Taxi, Ambulance and visitors. We’re accustomed to using major or iconic landmarks to explain directions or as address finders.
While some locations are “Google-able”, not everyone is digitally savvy. Dar should not remain dirty, disorderly and unreachable (location-wise). It’s time for tidying up! Wake up City and Municipal authorities and whoever is a custodian and frontline actor for the city! This far, you have failed us. As city residents, we should know that cleanliness, like charity, starts at home. We should clean our home surroundings daily, dispose of solid and liquid waste more responsibly and tend to our front-yards regularly. I can’t wait to see a facelifted Dar, donning a tidier, greener, and environmentally & hygienically cleaner landscape.
The author is a Development Economist (Rtd) who has worked locally and abroad.
The views expressed here are entirely his own, and in no way should they be viewed as the official stance of the Daily News, TSN or its Management. He may be reached vide firstname.lastname@example.org or amkiliaki1952@hotmail. com.