From the Field: George Visits a Deadly Stretch of Road

George Malekela, an Amend Senior Programme Assistant in Tanzania, describes his visit to a deadly stretch of road in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and his interactions with the local community there:

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Bringing part of the city to a halt

This week I visited a neighborhood of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania called Bondeni where a trunk road was recently upgraded. Since the upgrading of the road was completed in late 2014 there have been many injuries and fatalities to community members trying to cross the road. Though there is a zebra crossing–and residents use it–they are getting hit by vehicles regardless.

Just this past Saturday, a woman was hit by a car at the zebra crossing. Then, this Monday afternoon, a student from nearby Kawe Primary School was struck by a motorcycle while using the crossing. After this latest incident, the residents of Bondeni had become so exasperated by the situation that they blocked the road to demand the installation of speed humps, causing traffic tie ups across Dar es Salaam. In fact, that’s how I found out about the situation in Bondeni–through posts on social media about the traffic jams!

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Unsafe crossing

When I spoke with community members in Bondeni, they explained that, on average, there are eight accidents that occur at this spot every month. They reported complaining to various government agencies for safety improvements to the road, but to no avail. So they felt that they had no choice but to block the road. After blocking the road, they received promises that speed humps would be installed. As of today, new signs have been put up to warn drivers, but still no speed humps. Part of the reluctance of the government to put in speed humps is surely the pressure they are under to keep traffic moving as quickly as possible; but at Amend we believe that solutions can be found that keep traffic moving, while also making roads safe for everyone, including pedestrians, the most vulnerable group of road users.

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The crash I saw – and this is a “minor” crash

As if to illustrate the problem at Bondeni, in the brief time that I was visiting, I witnessed a crash. A car had stopped to allow pedestrians to cross as a lorry approached from behind; but the lorry could not brake in time, crashing into the back of the car.

Fortunately, no one was seriously injured in the crash that I saw (surprising, given how the vehicles looked!), but it serves as a reminder that dangerous areas like Bondeni can and must be identified in advance of road construction, not after, when communities have already started losing neighbors and loved ones. I and my colleagues at Amend stand at the ready to help governments and communities identify danger areas before people are killed and and injured, and to help develop and implement the measures necessary to keep communities safe.

George Malekela, Amend Senior Programme Assistant