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A William Lobulu Opinion: Arusha master plan without a speck of corruption

By William Lobulu

Arusha City is bracing to develop a master plan that will boost the present urban area from 272 sq kilometres to a mammoth 608 sq kilometres.  Given the relatively small size of the current Arusha urban area, the initiative means also rezoning chunks of land in the neighbouring  Arusha Rural and Arumeru  districts  to allow for the city expansion and planning. 

A master plan for any city is of great importance. It guides appropriate land use.  A city with an elaborate master plan observes guidelines laid within the plan which spells out suitable location for industrial, commercial, residential and mixed-use development. It is almost impossible to  find in a master plan worked out  by professionals, with the participation of  other stakeholders, say  a  factory  located amidst  a residential area, or a horticultural farm  using  noxious pesticides  next to a school or  hospital.  Nor will you find a workshop, heavy in welding works,   perched between a hotel and  church. Currently in Arusha all these improprieties, and more, are commonplace. 

A master plan also addresses envisaged transportation problems so it lays down strategies to ease the movement of people from one part of the city to another by improving transit services at available costs.  At the moment commuting  from Njiro to Mbauda which is hardly  five kilometers, as  the crow flies,  takes no less than two hours boarding  contraptions so-called  daladala that provide public transport service.  Planners would probably have provided a road link between the two areas at the southern fringe of Arusha city. Had there also been an effective master plan certainly there would not have been gridlock traffic jams in major roads in and around the city.  Land conflicts, invasions of open spaces, disease outbreaks and hawkers influx into the central business area could also have been easily averted if there were  a sound plan. 

It is estimated that about 70 percent of   Arusha  city  is unplanned  which means that  a large percentage of  the about  500,000 residents of  the city live in slums  with extremely poor infrastructure.

An initiative to redesign   the city is already underway, thanks to a memorandum of understanding   signed in 2014  by the government of Tanzania and Surbana  International  of Singapore  who will re-sculpture  the city.  Meetings of stakeholders of the Arusha master plan have been held and the latest one was on November 26 last year at the Lush Garden in Arusha to discuss the integrated plan. The public input into the plan is   essential because the outcome would be a reflection  of the Arusha community vision for the future of the city.
However, having a plan is one thing and implementing it is another.  In the late 1960s and early 1970s  Arusha  was graced to have  a master plan worked out in collaboration with  the Canadian government. Because implementation of the plan tended to block corruption avenues it was largely ignored by town planners. As a result   Arusha was gleefully let, by corrupt officials,   to grow haphazardly.

This time around stakeholders should seize the opportunity to make sure that their input is taken into account and a viable plan is worked out and implemented without loopholes for corruption. And with the agility of the new national administration, woe betide those who will dare treat the new city master plan as if it is their own master milk cow!  The affliction that they will face is beyond imagination.

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