Urban planning experts urge a revisit to Dar es Salaam master plan By Alvar Mwakyusa 21st December 2009 HIGH-RISE buildings springing up in downtown Dar es Salaam have raised the concern of urban planning experts in view of the inadequate service infrastructure that should accompany the citys renewal. A lot of work needs to be done in providing support services that would appropriate with modernisation of the country's commercial city, the experts suggested. While there seems to be an insatiable demand for office and residential accommodation in Dar es Salaam, experts who spoke to THISDAY recommend that the citys master plan should be redrawn, taking into account the need for better drainage of storm water, sewage, water supply and electricity distribution. The construction of new blocks of buildings is not concentrated in the city centre only. Developers are putting up high-rise structures in the suburbs as well. Besides the more central areas of Kariakoo and Upanga, the other areas seeing a hive of construction industry include Magomeni, Kijitonyama, Sinza and Kawe. Home to about four million people, the city started experiencing the boom in construction just a few years ago. Visitors and residents alike admire its changed skyline but abhor what they smell and tread on the ground and on unpaved roads. Choked sewers often spill their contents literary everywhere especially during rainy seasons. This is because the sewage system is outdated and overwhelmed by the waste that the increased population generates. According to the Registrar of the Contractors' Registration Board (CRB), Eng. Boniphace Muhegi, the construction industry ranks next to Tanzanias mining industry, chipping in about 6 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This year alone, Muhegi says the industry has recorded a growth rate of 13.7 per cent and it is projected upward to 14 per cent next year. In spite of that encouraging outlook, John Lupala, Dean of School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ardhi University (ARU), points out that the city of Dar es Salaam lacks a development management system to ensure properly planned growth with adequate infrastructure. City planners should take part of the blame for the poor infrastructure of Dar es Salaam, Lupala said, suggesting that corruption tendencies of some city administrators also played a part in approving unorganised development projects. As a city Dar es Salaam is messed up already Something should be done to avert the situation. The challenge is however, that the municipalities are ill-equipped to enforce the development control system to ensure that new structures cope with the surrounding infrastructure, Lupala said. Lupala, a professional urban and regional planner, said city designers and planners are required to adhere to spatial quality before approving any building within the city. City planning and designing requirements require that the height of a building should be the same as the width of the road it faces. For example, the width of roads in Kariakoo area is between 12 and 15 metres. Therefore, the height of the buildings there should not be more than 15 metres which is about five stories, he explained. But, on the contrary, high-rise buildings have been erected exceeding this standard. We should be very conscious of the height of the buildings and the surrounding topography since it has implication to the environment. Lupala has undertaken a research study on the development of Kariakoo area. He calls for re-development schemes for ripe-development areas, which will take on board basic design guidelines in a way that building heights will be defined according to the infrastructure. He recommends re-development schemes for high density areas noting that in case of an earthquake, Tanzania could suffer tremendous disasters due to unplanned construction and varying foundations on which many buildings stand. Part of the impacts of poor planning include daytime darkness in some parts of the city where the sun is being blocked, increased temperature as well as flooding when it rains. Lupala, whose fields of specialisation include human settlement planning and design, particularly blames poor urban planning on political interference, corruption as well as lack of government commitment to proper development of human settlements. A strategic plan devised for the city in 2006 was rejected by the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Human Settlements which had worked out its own priorities but omitted the land use component. The plan identified solid waste management, informal settlement, re-development of Kariakoo area, coastal resource management, city transportation and economy, among other priority concerns. On his part, George Mbyopyo of ARUs School of Urban and Regional Planning recalled that the first master plan for the city was put in place in 1968 and reviewed in 1979, but since then nothing has been done. When you look at the structures cropping up every day in the city in comparison with the existing infrastructure, it is evident that no thorough research was conducted on the infrastructure. When devising a master plan for a city like Dar es Salaam or any other city, infrastructure is the benchmark of all. Things to consider in such a plan should be roads, parking lots, water supply, sewerage and drainage systems in addition to electricity which could come at a later stage, Mbyopyo explained. When it rains in the city and water stagnates everywhere then there is a problem. The city fathers should put up proper infrastructure which should also be maintained, he said. Muhegi admitted that the city's master plan is outdated and needs to be revisited. There is a need to re-design the existing master plan. The sprouting of high-rise buildings means increased population pressure and waste. It is now evident that the existing infrastructure can no longer handle this situation and thus the need for re-designed, he said. In general nobody pointed a finger to contractors for the messed up city growth. Once a contractor gets a building permit, drawings of the envisaged building and handed the site, he carries out the job accordingly. Only the city fathers should take the blame for the poor infrastructure, Muhegi emphasised. Several high-rise structures have just been completed and more are under construction. New structures gracing the downtown area include Benjamin William Mkapa Towers on Azikiwe Street, Exim Towers on Garden Avenue. Amani Place on Ohio Street and National Insurance House Project on Samora Avenue are nearing completion. Those under construction are Uhuru Heights on Bibi Titi Mohamed Road, Viva Towers on Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, Public Service Pension Fund (PSPF) Investment Project on the junction of Ohio and Kibo Streets and the National Tourism College building at the corner of Shaaban Robert Street and Samora Machel Avenue. Major construction projects, coupled with the growth of the middle class in Tanzania, have pushed the demand for cement to an all-time high. Tanzania's cement production capacity will rise to 2.97 million tonnes by the end of the year from 2.47 million tonnes, thanks to the expansion of three plants. According to Industry, Trade and Marketing Minister Mary Nagu, domestic consumption of cement is expected to hit two million tonnes annually, up from industry estimates of 1.5 million tonnes last year. Analysts view cement consumption, among other indicators, as a measure of economic strength of many African countries. While other sectors of the economy, particularly tourism, show signs of a slump triggered by the global downturn, Tanzanias construction industry has weathered its spill-off effects unperturbed.