Dodoma Gets Black Africa's Second Ring Road (Beltway)

Brian Lüdtke

Brian Lüdtke

Owner and Founder, Dodoma.com

Government secures 415,000,000,000 TZS (180 million USD) to construct ring road around Tanzania's capital, Dodoma

Dodoma, 11 May 2019

The African Development Bank has granted a loan of 425 billion Tanzanian shillings to finance the construction of 110 kilometers of ring road around Dodoma, the capital of Tanzania.  The equivalent of 180 million dollars, this sum will enable the government to move forward with its plan to alleviate traffic congestion in this central city.

For illustration purposes only

The first ring road this author could identify was the Vienna Ring Road (Ringstraße).  In the 1850s, the Austrian capital still had its old medieval city walls and traffic in and out of the old city was impeded by the limited number of gates in the walls.  The earthworks and the walls provided sufficient space for the installation of several lanes of traffic.  Like all subsequent ring roads or beltways, the Ringstraße directed thru traffic away from the city center, facilitated access to and from the city, and eased the flow within the city.

DART mass transit bus system in Dar es Salaam

Surprisingly, Black Africa almost completely lacks any ring roads (beltways), meaning a 360° near-circle that completely surrounds the inner metro area. Other than Johannesburg, it’s a story of “almosts” and near-misses, although in many cases cities have a geographical situation that understandably precludes a ring road.

Durban has a so-called “ring road,” but it is actually a bypass; in any case, Durban is a coastal city and any complete circle would require a bridge over the sea like Mumbai’s Bandra Worli Sea Link. In Nigeria, the Benin City Bypass is half of a ring road, but this half-moon rim only traces the eastern  side of the metro area.

Cities like Maputo or Kinshasa have a shoreline, complicating the logistics of any ring road project, and in the latter’s geographic situation, its body of water also represents an international border. Bujumbura has numerous hills as well as a great lake.

Cities such as Bujumbura (above) have geographic hurdles to ring roads

The master plan for the approved Dodoma ring road shows that Ihumwa represents the easternmost point of the loop.  However, the Chamwino State House and its new ancillary installations at Mtumba lie east of that point. Therefore, the capital’s ring road will not enclose the residence of the executive branch. 

Certainly, leaving Chamwino State House outside the capital beltway ensures the president the future prerogative to expand the land attached to the executive residence.  However, arguably, putting the presidential home off by itself represents a departure from the traditional practice of seeking a close urban proximity for the respective headquarters of the legislative, of the judicial, and of the executive.

Dodoma’s ring road will be four lanes. Although not currently part of the project, central lanes devoted to bus transport could potentially expedite commutes and avoid delays. Dar es Salaam has already achieved major reductions in congestion with its Dar Rapid Transit (DART) system, which is still in development. With DART, which is replacing the old dalla-dalla (minibus) routes, large buses use the center lanes and thus minimize their exposure to traffic. If funds do not exist at this time for extra bus lanes, potentially the government could consider leaving space between the lanes, to allow for future improvement.

Chamwino State House (Dodoma) is the residence of the president of the United Republic of Tanzania

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