Mboneko Munyaga 10 October 2011 The ruins atop the Nyang'oro escarpment on the Iringa to Dodoma road via Mtera stand in majestic testimony to the place's former glory and opulence only that even in today's demographic patterns, the location is frightfully isolated to a point of being haunted. For, who in his right mind would choose that Heavens forsaken wilderness for a place of abode even if it were just for the extreme desire for privacy? Yet, there is something romantic about the place, which from the wooded vintage point commands an exquisitely green view down the valley that appears amazingly out of this world. Whoever chose the site for his home must have had a very refined sense of class, taste for power and graceful privilege to claim for his the very best from the gift of creation in this world. Nevertheless, its ghostly ambiance was as chocking as its strange and scenic allure. I had passed the place many times and at each visit felt an irresistible urge to explore the decayed citadel for it had all the frills of Stonehenge in the middle of nowhere. The nearest human settlements are still kilometres away, invoking when at the site, an eerie feeling of being flung back tens of millennia into the Neolithic era. It is not all the time though that curiosity killed the cat. A person who knew about the place told me that it was known as the Governor's Lodge or Camp. In colonial times, travelling by car from Iringa to Dodoma took a good two days. Thus, the camp was built as the resting point for the Governor and his party during his travels in the country. Today, the journey takes about eight hours of a bumpy and dusty ride. As in the colonial days, the road, which is part of the Great North Road from the Cape to Cairo, has not been paved. However, it has been macadamised to make it passable all the year round, save when rivers flood and burst their banks. Plans are afoot though to tarmac the road and make it part of the impressive network of roads in Tanzania mainland, a country about twice the size of France, Europe's second largest country and former colonial power over nearly half of Africa. Tanzania technically had no tarmac roads at independence as the British colonial masters concentrated more on exploiting the country's natural resources but gave little priority to the development of infrastructure. For instance, until 1971, the road from Dar es Salaam to Morogoro, a mere 200 kilometres away was still being surfaced by the independent First Phase Government under Father of the Nation, Mwalimu Julius Kambarage Nyerere. The road to Mbeya was nicknamed "The Hell Run" due to the number of fatal accidents involving heavy trucks when it was used as the main supply line to and from the see for Zambia cargo when the minority racist regime in Southern Rhodesia under Ian Smith proclaimed the Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and was immediately boycotted by the rest of free Africa. The road, about 900 kilometres is now fully paved. Similarly, the road to Mwanza from Dar es Salaam more than 1200 kilometres away, is still being paved by the Fourth Phase Government under President Jakaya Kikwete with internally sourced funds. Works have almost been completed save for about 40 kilometres of a swampy stretch near Singida. Driving from Dar es Salaam to Mwanza, Tanzania's second largest city, used to take up to 40 hours but that has now been cut to less than 14 hours, a plausible development for a country that has already sampled the joy of driving on the fast lane as the biggest catalyst to kick poverty. Arguably, Tanzania's most prized infrastructural development in the 50 years of independence is the nearly one kilometre long bridge across the Rufiji River built under the reign of retired President Benjamin Mkapa. The 32bn/- bridge, fittingly named after the former leader, greatly transformed road transport to the southern regions of Coast, Lindi, Mtwara and Ruvuma. Most of the road to Mtwara, near the border with Mozambique, some 600 kilometres from Dar es Salaam has also been paved. It now takes about eight hours only to drive to Mtwara compared to the former nightmarish 36 hours before. The road was sometimes completely impassable especially during the rainy seasons. A bridge to link with Mozambique across the Ruvuma River is also being built. Other paved roads today include the Makambako to Songea, which cuts through the tricky and windy Lukumbulu escarpment, which was the scene of many fatal accidents before. The government has now resolved to link all regional headquarters by tarmac roads, mainly with cash raised internally by contributions to the national Road Fund. The government is also building a bridge across the Malagalasi River to end the isolation of Kigoma, Rukwa and Katavi regions. Worth mentioning also is the fact that Tanzania and Zambia are the only two post independence African countries that teamed up to build a railway. The Uhuru Railway, Kiswahili for Freedom Railway was built by the Tanzania Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) with Chinese expertise from 1970 to 1975 to give landlocked Zambia access to the sea through Dar es Salaam port in the face of UDI. The nearly 1,900 kilometre railway is today a massive blessing with connections to the former bastions of colonialism but free nations today of Mozambique, Zimbabwe itself and South Africa and, through Tanzania to both Kenya and Uganda, linking nearly half of Africa from the Cape to Cairo by railway. The central railway line from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma was built by the Germans during their short rule of the country before World War l. The British added the connection from Tabora to Mwanza, making Tanzania by comparison, one of the best served countries in Africa by a railway network. The Dar es Salaam harbour had always been an important port on the African coastline of the Indian Ocean. It was extensively expanded upon independence and quickly rivaled Mombasa in Kenya, which the colonialists had developed as the regional hub. Tanga port was also given a facelift and is poised to become even busier under the proposed Tanga to Musoma Railway Line to give Uganda a cheaper route to the sea through Lake Victoria. Mtwara is eastern Africa's naturally deepest harbour and is also primed for busier times ahead under the Mtwara Corridor Development Initiative. Tanzania also has by far more airports led by the Julius Nyerere International Airport in Dar es Salaam, the Kilimanjaro International Airport and the Mwanza airport, where massive facelift is also planned. There are challenges. Infrastructure development involves capital intensive projects, which evaluated in the last 50 years, Tanzania has performed quite impressively compared to many other countries in similar situation. Source : allAfrica.com: Tanzania: Only Nation in Africa That Built Railway Kwa kweli tunapenda kuiponda nchi yetu, ila hebu wakati mwingine itabidi tu tujipe hongera, au?