September 1, 2014

An overview of the road infrastructure in Tanzania

This update examines the regulatory framework of roads in Tanzania and plans for improvement to the road network, such as the Dar es Salaam to Chalinze Expressway and the Dar e salaam Rapid Transit Project.

Tanzania has approximately 87,600 kilometres of public roads across an area almost as large as France and Germany combined. The ability of the country to upgrade and improve its road infrastructure will be one of the key factors in whether it can continue the impressive rates of economic growth achieved across various sectors in recent years.

Regulatory framework

Since its establishment in 2010, the Ministry of Works (MoW) has been responsible for all road related activity in Tanzania, including the formulation of policies, the coordination of development programmes and oversight of the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) and the Road Fund Board (RFB). According to section 12 of the Roads Act 2007 (the Roads Act), public roads in Tanzania are divided into two categories: national roads and district roads.

TANROADS was established in 2000 as an executive agency, now under the MoW, with responsibility for the maintenance and development of national roads in mainland Tanzania, which includes approximately 13,000 kilometres of trunk roads and 21,000 kilometres of regional roads.

In 1998 the Prime Minister's Office – Regional Administration & Local Government (PMO-RALG) took over responsibility for regional administration and local governance on the abolition of the Ministry for Regional Administration and Local Government, which includes responsibility for the development and maintenance of approximately 53,000 kilometres of district roads in Tanzania.

The RFB was established under the Road & Fuel Tolls Act 2006 (the RFTA) with the main function of managing the Road Fund, a fund into which fuel toll levies, transit fees, overloading fees and other monies are deposited. The RFTA prescribes that at least 90% of the Road Fund must be used for maintenance and repair of public roads, with the remaining 10% used for road development and administrative costs. The RFB also advises the MoW on new sources of road and fuel tolls, disburses funds from the Road Fund to TANROADS and other agencies and enters into corresponding performance agreements.


The latest government statistics in Tanzania reveal that 19% of national roads and just 2% of district roads were paved in 2013. The poor condition of existing roads is a major factor in the severe congestion often experienced by drivers both in Dar es Salaam and on major trunk roads leading to and from the city. Congestion has been estimated to cost the Dar es Salaam economy alone as much as 411 billion Tanzanian Shillings (approximately USD 250 million) every year, with projections that this figure will rise without significant investment in road infrastructure, due to the ever increasing number of vehicles on the roads.

In the 2014/15 budget, the MoW has been allocated 1.2 trillion Tanzanian Shillings (approximately USD 730 million) and a significant proportion of this will be allocated to maintaining and improving the road network in Tanzania.

Dar es Salaam – Chalinze Toll Road

The government of Tanzania has announced plans for the upgrade of a significant portion of the Dar es Salaam to Morogoro trunk road to expressway standard. The plans involve the upgrade of approximately 100 kilometres from Dar es Salaam to Chalinze in order to ease traffic congestion along the route. This project is of national importance to Tanzania, given that it is the main westbound arterial route from the main commercial hub and port, Dar es Salaam, and serves much of mainland Tanzania in addition to the neighbouring landlocked countries of Malawi, Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi. It is estimated that the road carries up to 70% of the freight from the port of Dar es Salaam. Chalinze is also the point at which the main Dar es Salaam to Morogoro road meets the Tanga road, which links Dar es Salaam to Mombasa in Kenya.

The project, which is estimated to cost USD 535 million, will involve the construction of a six lane expressway for the first 50 kilometres from Dar es Salaam, reducing to a four lane expressway for the remainder of the way to Chalinze, with grade separated junctions and service roads on both sides in addition to toll collection facilities and amenities for road users. It will significantly improve the safety, speed and reliability of journey times along the route.

TANROADS has so far advertised tenders for contracting financing proposals (February 2013) and preliminary design work (June 2014), both of which have now closed.  In its tender documents, TANROADS has indicated that it is flexible with regard to the structure of the tender, be it design and build; design, build and operate; build, operate and transfer; or other similar arrangements.

It is envisaged that a second phase of this project will upgrade the section of this road continuing from Chalinze to Morogoro at some point in the future when funding and priorities allow.

Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit Project

In an effort to relieve pressure on the road network by improving the public transport system in Dar es Salaam and encouraging large numbers of citizens to choose this over private cars, the government of Tanzania is in the process of constructing phase 1 of the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit System (DART) along a 20.9 kilometre stretch of the Morogoro Road from the city centre. The system being put in place is a bus rapid transit system, which has been successful in several cities in other developing countries, notably Curitiba (Brazil), Quito (Chile) and Bogota (Colombia), with construction costs approximately 5 – 10% of the investment required for a corresponding metro or light rail system and operational costs of approximately half.

The design involves constructing segregated bus lanes in either direction in the centre of the carriageway with raised platforms in the centre of the road for passengers to embark and disembark. Either side of the bus lanes will be two lanes of private traffic, a cycle lane and a footpath. The rapid transit buses will be extended tram-like buses. Feeder services on conventional buses will be used to transport passengers to and from areas not served directly by the service.

The PMO-RALG, which oversees the implementation of DART, has plans for 6 phases of DART, covering all of the main arterial routes into Dar es Salaam in addition to several radial routes.

If you would like further information on any issue raised in this briefing please contact Peter Kasanda.