From the Field: Neema on Neighborhood Road Safety Activism

Neema Swai, an Amend Senior Programme Assistant in Tanzania describes her visit to a community in Dar es Salaam that has taken road safety into its own hands:

Dar_ChicaneB

I recently visited a neighborhood in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, my hometown, where people have been injured and the community felt compelled to do something.

In fast-growing Dar, the government is struggling to keep up with the safety demands related to road infrastructure development and the rapid increase in the number of vehicles. With rapid growth, many secondary urban roads are being upgraded to ease pressure on the congested main roads.

In Kinondoni District (one of the three districts that make up Dar), the municipal government is upgrading the road from Kinondoni District Court towards Mwananyamala. The road passes very close to people’s houses, through what is a largely unplanned settlement. The upgrading will involve providing a tarmac surface on what is currently a dirt road.

The project started in June this year, but has since been put on hold. From a rough road with a lot of potholes which forced vehicles to travel slowly, the road has now been graded in preparation for the application of the tarmac. The smooth graded road allows vehicles to travel much faster than previously, and it is this that the community blames for a number of recent injuries to local people, including a school child.

Here’s what the community did: they created their own chicanes (traffic calming devices) by using large stones and used tires in order to slow the vehicles. After a few days, when they realised that the chicanes did not slow motorcycles, they constructed two speed bumps using sand and gravel. These measures have proven quite effective in slowing vehicles down.

Of course, communities should not have to construct their own improvised infrastructure to keep themselves safe.  Ultimately, it is the government’s responsibility to provide safe roads. We at Amend will work towards supporting government in that aim, while in the mean time helping communities to keep themselves and their children safe.

Neema Swai, Amend Senior Programme Assistant