TANZANIA President John Magufuli has announced plans to reduce traffic jams in the east African nation’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
The city’s notorious traffic jams are projected to cost the municipal’s economy more than $548 millionover the next three years.
According to last 2015 statistics, Dar es Salaam loses nearly $188 million to traffic congestion annually.
The plans, the Tanzanian president said, included heavy investments towards the construction of roads and railways in the capital of over 5 million people.
Magufuli was speaking Saturday shortly at a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of a flyover in the coastal city.
He said immediate plans included the construction of a six lane 128km highway from Kigamboni Bridge to Chalinze in Coast region with five flyovers, adding that the project will be implemented as a public-private partnership.
Magufuli said the government had already allocated $500 million in the next financial year to upgrade the central railway line to standard gauge.
He said South Korea has expressed interest to finance the construction of a 7km bridge along the Indian Ocean to ease traffic congestion.
$50 million price tag
Patrick Mfugale, Chief Executive Officer for the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS), said TAZARA flyover project will be constructed at a cost of $50 million, with the government of Japan contributing $46.5 million and the Tanzania’s $4.2 million.
Minister for Works, Transport and Communication Makame Mbarawa, said upon completion of the first flyover in the city, traffic congestion will be reduced by 80%.
President Magufuli himself earned his reputation as a hard-driving boss and the nicknamed “tingatinga,” Swahili for bulldozer, in his previous position as the country’s minister of works.
He has made local and international headlines since he was sworn in last November, with a serious of actions to crack down on government waste and corruption.
He cancelled high profile Union Day celebrations, saying one million U.S. dollars could be saved for a road project.
Union Day, April 26, marks the union of Tanganyika mainland and Zanzibar Islands 52 years ago to form the United Republic of Tanzania.
The president said in a statement that the money would be used to expand a road stretch from Mwanza Airport in northern Tanzania to the city centre.
The project is also aimed at easing traffic jams in Mwanza, a city on the shores of Lake Victoria.
Days after he took office last year, Magufuli cancelled celebrations marking Independence Day on Dec. 9, and ordered the $2 million set aside for the festivities be used to construct a 4.3 km road section in Dar es Salaam.
He also cancelled celebrations marking World AIDS Day on Dec. 1 to cut what he termed as “unnecessary government spending”, ordering the money saved be used to purchase drugs.
There were jokes in Tanzania at the end of last year that he might cancel Christmas. He didn’t, but came close, barring the printing of Christmas cards at government expense.
The money-saving measures generated a meme on Twitter that asked #WhatWouldMagufuliDo? Sceptics suggested he was a lone ranger and populist, and would soon run out of steam. He seems not to have slowed.
Magufuli has fired at least seven government agency heads since coming to office Nov. 5, including the head of the country’s anti-corruption body, the chief of Tanzania Railways and a top immigration official.
Magufuli’s efficiency drive has also focused on tax collection.
Takings exceeded 1.4 trillion shillings ($643 million) in December, beating the government’s target by 12%. In November, the president suspended the head of the Tanzania Revenue Authority and ordered a probe into hundreds of shipping containers with goods worth 80 billion shillings that went missing at Dar es Salaam’s port.
The Treasury spent 37.5 billion shillings on school grants, 46.3 billion shillings on water projects and another 80 billion shillings on an electricity plant in Dar es Salaam over in the three months to March—money that wasn’t previously available.