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City expansion: Lessons from Dar

Nairobi could learn vital lessons on decongestion if it borrows a leaf from Dar es Salaam.

Dar authorities have set out to establish a peripheral urban development near the capital.

Kigamboni Satellite City project is a three-phase dream on 50,934 hectares with meticulous planning.

Although Nairobi has several planned satellite cities, including Konza and Tatu, they don’t match the scale of the 30-year Public Private Partnership (PPP) project that Dar has ambitiously set for itself.

Like many other cities, Dar es Salaam is struggling with insufficient infrastructure and a plan that has left no space for growth.

Too much pressure

Nairobi county has decided to review its master plan that will guide development for the next 17 years with the first draft expected in December.

With both projects in the two capitals projected to be completed at the same time, it remains to be seen which strategy will work best to make the cities more fluid and pleasant, socially and economically.

According to Cyrus Mbisi a consulting engineer for the Jica project team developing the master plan, areas around Kajiado and Machakos counties provide the space that would be required if the city were to embark on such a move.

“As it is, Nairobi is already expanding into these areas. What is needed is keen government intervention to ensure the development is well planned unlike what has happened in Nairobi,” he added.

The approach to Dar’s expansion means that the government will spend a tidy sum despite the project being structured as a PPP.

On the other hand, Nairobi has chosen a guided organic growth which minimises costs to provision of basic infrastructure.

Physical planner Kivuti Karingi, however, takes a different view, saying the pressure on Nairobi is too much and efforts should be directed at decentralising urbanisation not considering satellite cities.

“Nairobi will grow in the direction of neighbouring counties. The policy should be stimulating growth in other areas like Nanyuki or Nakuru to ease the pressure on the capital,” he says.

KIARIE NJOROGE, [email protected]