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Last Updated: Friday, 31 October, 2003, 08:24 GMT
Tanzania roads get facelift
By Dan Dickinson
BBC, Dar es Salaam

Tanzania's road network is set to become the envy of Africa following a major construction programme in the country.

Road repair in Tanzania
The new road network could be the envy of many countries
The network - made up of 85,000km - has been so neglected in the past that in many areas it has deteriorated beyond repair.

This has forced people travelling to the northern city of Mwanza from Dar es Salaam to pass through the Kenyan capital, Nairobi - a detour of several hundred kilometres.

It is hoped that new roads - not just in Mwanza but across the whole of Tanzania - will boost the local economy and help to reduce poverty.

"It is important because it is one of the major factors of economic growth in any country... it eases transportation of goods, whether agricultural or industrial goods, imports or exports," says Mr Leopold Mujjungi who is in charge of trunk roads in the Ministry of Works.


Mr Majungi says that the new road network will also ease communication between Tanzania and the neighbouring countries of Rwanda and Burundi.

"People will get easier access because there is no damage to their cars, no potholes and there is a saving in travelling time, and along the new road a lot of commercial activities are coming up," he says.

In the case of Mwanza the new road system is impacting on the health of ordinary people.

"People were inhaling a lot of dust from morning to dusk which has been affecting even their health," said Mr Majungi.

"But now we have a new paved road with no dust at all".


The biggest donor in the road rebuilding programme is the European Union (EU) which is spending up to $40m a year.

"It requires a lot of resources... the government is putting in some of the resources but the needs are huge because Tanzania is such a huge country.....that even to maintain the current network of roads requires a lot of resources," says William Hanna, head of the EU in Tanzania.
Road building in Tanzania
The economic benefits will be considerable

Many of the tarmac roads in Tanzania were built over 10 years ago and have almost completely disintegrated and Mr Hanna says that the EU has listed maintenance as one of the conditions for assistance in the building of new roads.

"A few years ago it came to a point where we could not assist Tanzania in the construction of new roads unless the question of maintenance was properly addressed," said Mr Hanna.

When the Mwanza road project ends early next year it is hoped that Tanzanians will by then be reaping the many benefits that new roads can bring.

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