Published on Sustainable Cities

Can Dar es Salaam become the next global model on transit-oriented development?

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Photo: World Bank
Public exhibition at Gerezani BRT Station in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on October 12, 2017.
(Photo: World Bank)

Many urban planners may know the success stories of Curitiba, Singapore or London realizing transit-oriented development (TOD). However, TOD is still very new in Sub-Saharan Africa. Although this concept of leveraging on major transit infrastructure to affect integrated land-use development for greater benefits may be gaining more recognition, there are few examples of successful TOD in Sub-Saharan Africa beyond a couple of South African cities, such as Cape Town and Johannesburg.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania now has the perfect opportunity to become a pioneer on transit-oriented development. 

Dar es Salaam, the largest city in Tanzania with a population of 4.6 million, is expected to become a mega city by 2030 with a population over 10 million. However, its growth has been largely shaped by informality, coupled with a lack of hierarchy in roads and transit modes. It is increasingly difficult to get around the city without being stuck in traffic for hours. The complex and fragmented institutional structure of Dar es Salaam compounds the challenges, making management of the city complicated and less effective.

However, Dar es Salaam is East Africa’s first city to implement a bus-rapid transit (BRT) system , and in just over a year of its operation, already garnered the prestigious Sustainable Transport Award from the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy (ITDP). With the development of this first BRT line, there is already an observed increase in the intensity of economic activities; developments are mushrooming and land value is rising along the corridor. While this provides a significant opportunity for both the public and private sectors to invest in urban development and improve the utilization of land along the corridor, the changes need to be carefully guided so they are appropriate contextually and culturally. In addition, a careful balance needs to be maintained to ensure that lower-income communities and the greater public also benefit from the resultant economic and social gains over time.  

Objectives of TOD. (Source: CDS Phase 1 Report)
So, what is the city doing in this respect? Under the Dar es Salaam Metropolitan Development Project (DMDP), the government is working with a large group of stakeholders, supported by the World Bank and the Nordic Development Fund, to formulate a Corridor Development Strategy (CDS). The main objective of the CDS is to develop an integrated land use and transport plan and guidelines to guide the detailed development and appropriate densification along this corridor. It will also provide TOD guidelines and Pedestrian Oriented Development (POD) solutions for future BRT corridors.

Phase 1 under the multi-phase CDS has yielded a treasure-trove of data and interesting findings. The team undertook a systematic examination and deep dived into five key aspects of the corridor:
  • socio-economics and real estate profile
  • natural environment
  • urban planning
  • transport and mobility
  • infrastructure. 
This allowed the establishment of a robust baseline of existing condition and understanding of the local context, market conditions, residents, BRT users and their needs. In addition, station area typologies were developed and assessments were made using a Station Evaluation Matrix, which looks at 19 qualitative and quantitative indicators organized around: (i) market readiness, (ii) development potential, and (iii) TOD characteristics. Besides establishing the hard facts, Phase 1 was also critical to building the confidence and support of the stakeholders, for all to begin understanding and appreciating the benefits associated with the CDS and the transformative potential that a TOD approach can bring to the BRT network.

Last week was an exciting one and a milestone in the development of the CDS. We are nearing the conclusion of Phase 1, which culminated in a series of activities. First in the series was a day-long stakeholders’ engagement session where they were updated on the project progress and findings, and participated in an Ideas Charrette (an interactive session to gather ideas to inform Phase 2 proposals). In addition, a public exhibition was held at the Gerezani BRT Station to engage with the general public—not only those living and working within the Phase 1 BRT Corridor, but also the BRT users who are in transit from and to other parts of the city.
Photo: World Bank
Characterizing transit stations along the BRT corridor. (Source: CDS Phase 1 Report)
The CDS is expected to conclude by mid-2018. Phase 2 will see the formulation of detailed proposals for the corridor, which will provide urban planning and design guidelines, pilot TOD nodes proposals, implementation approaches, possible business models for attracting private financing, facilitating TOD investments, and capacity building plans—all developed through the current public participation approach.
Photo: World Bank
Examples of feedback received from workshop participants. (Source: CDS Phase 1 Report)
As described in a previous blog post, we recognize that TODs are no easy task; they are difficult both to plan and to execute. The Corridor Development Strategy marks a concerted effort to take a step in the right direction for building inclusive and sustainable communities in Dar es Salaam.

What else do you think could be done to help Dar es Salaam realize its TOD dream? 
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Chyi-Yun Huang

Senior Urban Development and Disaster Risk Management Specialist

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