I read with interest (online) Tomoko Otake’s Sept. 27, 2009, article, “Let’s Bike!” Our organization, UWABA, is advocating for the construction of better and safer infrastructure for cyclists in Dar es Salaam. Tanzania is a poor country in East Africa and most funding for major roads comes from external donors. These donors have a large influence on the priorities and design of roads.
All the major roads funded by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) are extremely dangerous designs for cyclists — much worse in this regard than the roads funded by other donors. Examples are Kawawa Road, Kilwa Road and a road now being built, New Bagamoyo Road. These roads are all funded by JICA and designed by Japanese consultancy companies who seem to be exporting “bicycle unfriendliness” from Japan to Tanzania.
JICA also supported the writing of a transport master plan for Dar es Salaam that did not even consider the needs of cyclists. Other donors tend to prioritize the needs of the poor — who often use bicycles — as well as the needs of the environment and the reduction of traffic congestion. In contrast, JICA seems to be aiding only the rich car-owning Tanzanians.
I hope that Japanese citizens become aware of this issue.
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