The Safe and Sustainable Transport Action Plan for Tanga, Tanzania

15 November 2022

On November 11, 2022, we launched our Safe and Sustainable Transport Action Plan for Tanga City with our partners in beautiful Tanga, Tanzania (download the English or Swahili versions). 

Tanga is a bustling city on Tanzania’s northeast coast, not far from the Kenyan border. It has a fast-growing population, currently of around 300,000 people. A large port is scheduled for construction there, and the city will be the terminus of the forthcoming East African Crude Oil Pipeline. Both projects are expected to result in further rapid growth.

This economic growth is welcomed by both the government and public, with the hope that it will generate jobs and enhance public services. But this growth comes with new challenges, and road safety and sustainable transport issues are near the top of the list of those challenges. For instance, within Tanzania, Tanga has a long-held reputation as a city of bicycles, but motorcycles are rapidly replacing bicycles; as is well understood, motorcycles in Africa provide important opportunities but also bring extremely high injury rates from crashes. And, as all kinds of traffic has increased, children – 71% of whom walk to school – now suffer extremely high rates of road traffic injuries. Currently, 2.4% of school-age children in Tanga are injured every year, and 23% of those children who suffer from a crash require medical attention for their injuries.

Amend has had a permanent presence in Tanga since 2019, when we opened a satellite office in the city (our headquarters in Tanzania is in Dar es Salaam). Since then, Amend, with the support of the Botnar Child Road Safety Challenge, has done in Tanga pretty much everything we do: the provision of safe pedestrian infrastructure around high-risk schools, road safety education in schools, training of motorcycle riders, research into the causes and impacts of road traffic injuries, our Kids’ Court program, and advocacy. You can check out an article from Amend’s Ayikai Poswayo and George Malekela that was published in the journal Injury Prevention and details our work in Tanga to date.

“Advocacy” is one of those terms that can, depending on the context, mean very different things to different people. But, for Amend, advocacy in Tanga has meant building trust and relationships with everyone in the city who has a stake in safe and sustainable transport: government agencies, civil society, motorists, the private sector, and children and youth. We carefully listen to everyone’s diverse views, help frame the context around safe and sustainable transport, and demonstrate and present evidence-based solutions that work.

This effort, even in a mid-sized city like Tanga, has taken years and required countless workshops, meetings, and one-on-one conversations. And with the release of the Safe and Sustainable Transport Action Plan for Tanga City, we have the payoff: a shared document with clear, achievable short- and medium-term commitments to actions from all stakeholders, as well as longer-term aspirations.

In the foreword to the Action Plan,Tanga City Mayor Abdurahman Shiloow sets the mandate, saying, “I encourage all stakeholders to work together to implement this plan, improving the lives of our children, ourselves, and our communities.”

Over 61 people were present for the launch of the Action Plan, including District Commissioner Hashim Mgandilwa and Lord Mayor Abdurahman Shiloow. At the event, Mr. Mgandilwa confirmed the government’s commitment: “Coming up with this action plan is an important step towards reducing the number of road traffic injuries in our Tanga City,” he said. “So, if all stakeholders are involved and managed effectively, this action plan will significantly help in reducing or completely eliminating road safety challenges. I want to assure you that we in the government are ready to provide all the support needed to implement this action plan.”

As detailed in the Action Plan, we will work in the coming months and years with, among others, the Tanga City Council, the mayor, the traffic police, motorcycle taxi associations, Bombo Hospital, ward executive officers, community development officers, roads agencies like TARURA and TANROADS, the Red Cross, and, of course, schools and communities. The issues we will address include safe school zone infrastructure, commercial motorcycle training and licensing, first aid training, crash response, urban planning, improved street lighting, and sustainable financing for such activities.

The release of the Action Plan is just the end of the beginning. Amend is committed to Tanga for the long term. We will continue to work every day with the people and institutions of Tanga to execute the Action Plan and help make sure transport in Tanga is livable, safe, and equitable for everyone, as the city grows in the years ahead. That’s what it takes. There are no shortcuts. But the road ahead is clear. And in Tanga, where the undugu (a Swahili term that means “community, strength, respect, and togetherness”) is strong, this work is an absolute pleasure and privilege.