Saturday, January 23, 2010

Unplanned settlements, a growing phenomenon in most towns and cities

THE issue of safe, affordable and quality housing has been a pain in the flesh of policy makers, the world over, including Tanzania. The country has seen a boom in housing in the last decade coupled with emergence of impressive houses that are continuing to be built in areas beyond the traditional Central Business Districts (CBDs) of the country’s cities. In spite of this increase, still there are still unplanned settlements with the number of houses built in their different types and style which are not in proper plan. Numerous houses have also sprung up haphazardly in areas that are not surveyed, technically known as squatter areas. The area from Ubungo all the way to Kimara and Mbezi in the city of Dar es Salaam for example is dotted with homes, some classy with gardens and beautiful landscaping that could be associated with plush Oysterbay area or any other low-density suburbs. There are also many houses of questionable quality built without regard to proper drainage, space for roads, water supply and provisions for other public utilities. The same scenario is repeated itself in places like Sakina and Sanawari in Arusha city, Igogo or Mabatini in Mwanza city and other locations in the country. It may well be that city and town planners together with land surveyors did not keep pace with the demand for building plots. Many Tanzanians prefer to be house owners instead of being renters because of the security that housing provides for the individual and family at present and in future.

A typical example of a squatter settlement which can be found on hilly lands

That may explain why many chose to build houses on inherited parcels of land they obtained from peasants that are haphazardly subdivided. Further beyond the boundaries of cities and towns, there are country homes that can elicit envy of some second or first world countries. There are houses hidden in between banana gardens of Kilimanjaro residents that perhaps were built to salute the grandeur of the mountain. As you drive along Arusha-Dar Highway near Mwanga district, finely built houses located in Mruma-Ndorwe about30 kilometers away from Mwanga can be seen. It is becoming common to find houses tucked away in the hills of Lushoto or Kamachumu, which would fit nicely in Msasani peninsula. Government agencies have also played their part. The National Housing Corporation (NHC) has plans to build thousands more houses to complement the ones already owned by the company. The National Social Security Fund (NSSF) too has built a number of units in the Mainland. The fund is planning to extend its housing development schemes to Zanzibar as well. All these urban and rural efforts are geared towards addressing the housing needs for the growing urban population. But will it quench the thirst for affordable housing in a market where the economy has been growing at 5-6 percent for the last decade? Has the boom resulted to easing of the housing shortage or slowing down of the escalation of rental fees? To some extent the boom may already have eased what would have been an acute crisis but not quite.

Squatter settlement in low lands, the city planning officers aught to foresee for the development of their cities in order to ensure proper housing plans.

As real estate companies and individuals put up their houses in the market for rent, there is a need to address the glaring shortcomings evident in squatter settlements while the stakeholders continues to promote and regulate the expansion of the housing sector. Some investment and efforts have gone into improving urban squatter settlements as in the case of Manzese-Magomeni areas in Dar es Salaam, but the efforts are dogged by the existence of old and dilapidated houses that cannot be simply removed. There are many other settlements that with people’s involvements and contribution of concerned authorities can, and should be demolished to pave way for roads, storm drainage and sanitation facilities. There may be reason to declare sub-standard houses unfit for habitation so that the lives of people can be safeguarded. The absence of proper roads in unplanned housing coupled with situations where houses are crammed together means a small fire can gut down several houses causing significant loss of property and lives.

This is Manzase-Magomeni suburb in the city of Dar es Salaam. The area had been developed with improper housing development plan, the city fathers have to be blamed since earlier for failure to take actions to prevent haphazard construction of such houses around.

To change the present chaotic urban centers into beautiful cities of the future will require making painful choices and decisive leadership from individuals, communities and different levels of authority. One such choice will include demolishing of structures built on road reserves in planned neighborhoods. As the situation exists in most parts of the country, the government’s efforts have resulted into the surveying of thousands of town plots and village land. By 1995, it was estimated that Tanzania needed approximately 1.2 million housing units in all urban areas. At the same time it was also estimated that 70 percent of the urban population lived in squatter areas. Despite good intentions and laws that regulate urban construction, squatter settlements continued to grow in cities and towns due to the large numbers of populations shifting from the villages. At times, people have had to settle in places that are flood prone.

How roads bridges the economy of Tanzania

ROAD construction is one way to bridge the communication between the people, rural and urban areas. In order to achieve better results there is a great need to enhance transport infrastructure and the Ministry of Infrastructure Development in collaboration with the Tanzania Roads Agency (TANROADS) has played a crucial role in this sector in the country. The sector has become so essential for social and economic development for it provides links between centers of production and markets. Roads facilitate the movement of people and goods along import and export corridors. Tanzania is proud because road transport has remained the dominant mode of transport that carries over 80 percent of passenger traffic and over 75 percent of internal freight. The road sub-sector therefore has a unique role to play in the country’s development. Road network in Tanzania is the most valuable asset with an estimated value of approximately US$ 3 billion. The government recognizes the role transport and in particular road transport plays in its poverty reduction strategy. Over the last few years, the government has therefore embarked on reforms in the sub-sector to ensure the proper management of this important asset. Notable among the reforms has been the setting up of Road Fund to ensure guarantee funding for road maintenance and the formation of TANROADS on the other hand, has to ensure the proper management of the national roads network. The firm has been managing the development of road networks and sustainable maintenance for the last nine years it has been in operation in the country. The work has supported the increased pace of socio-economic development of the country.

A woman is riding along Shelui-Nzega road

Following its establishment in July 2000, TANROADS took over the day-to-day management of the Mainland’s Trunk and Regional Roads network from the then Roads Department of the Ministry of Works to the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development. The aim of TANROADS is therefore to provide cost effective and sustainable maintenance and the development of primary road network comprised of all trunk and regional roads network which is of 28,892 km to support the socio-economic development of Tanzania. The remaining 56,108 km of roads in rural and urban areas is the responsibility of the President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PORALG) and other roads authorities. Currently the agency has under its management 9,934 of trunk roads and 18,957 Km of regional roads. TANROADS’s mission is to develop, maintain and manage the trunk and regional roads in an efficient manner for a sustainable and safe network, consistent with the government policies.
It has a unique vision to be a leading road agency in Africa dedicated to providing a well-developed all weather road network to support the economic and social development of Tanzania. The objective of TANROADS is to support the social-economic growth of the country and to help reduce poverty through the promotion of trade, support for the economic sectors such as agriculture, mining, tourism, industry and provide access to social services such as health, education and recreation. Since its inception, TANROADS has made remarkable progresses and among its achievements is the improved management of the road networks in the country. The overall result is that the condition of the national network has improved from 49 percent in poor condition in 2000 to 16 percent in poor condition by June 2006. This has exceeded TANROADS expectations in 2003 that had foreseen a 20 percent improvement in the proportion of the network in good and fair condition by end of the year 2009.

Construction of roads paves way for poverty reduction.

Other achievements include an improved efficiency and transparency in the award of contracts. Procurement for major works contracts have been reduced to approximately six months from tendering and for major works, this has been reduced to between three and four months. Project management has continued to improve and most roads are completed within time and budget. Over the years, TANROADS’s absorptive capacity has improved considerably. The total expenditure has increased from Tshs25 billion in 2000-01 to over Tshs264 billion in 2005/06 and is expected to rise considerably up to Tshs. 560 billion by 2010. To keep the network in the present condition would depend on the continued receipt of funds commensurate with TANROADS planned activities from the Roads Fund, the government and external development partners. The Agency also manages the operations of the weighbridges and provides appropriate technical advice to other roads authorities as and when required. Other functions includes improving road safety and managing the environmental impact of road works, establishing and maintaining an appropriate databank for the national road network as well as establishing and operating weighbridges and enforcing axle load control on the national road network.
Axle Load Control has also improved tremendously. According to TANROADS’ statistics, the percentage of the number of vehicles overloaded has been reduced from 40 percent to around 5 percent to all types of vehicles. Other agency’s responsibilities include engaging contractors to carry out their works as well as supervising the works by themselves. TANROADS monitors the activities and works carried out by the contractors and consultants to ensure works are done in accordance with specifications. There are so many challenges the agency faces in executing its duties. Among the most common ones are the size of Tanzania and the settlement patterns, the inadequate funds for maintenance, rehabilitation and upgrading, a huge backlog of rehabilitation to meet the strategic needs, long procurement process especially for small maintenance works, vandalism of road furniture as well as high levels of road accidents. Low capacity of the local contracting and consulting industry constrains TANROADS operations, including the current level of funding that accounts for only about 50 percent of the actual requirement. Axle load control on the other hand is not fully understood by the public while road reserve clearance continues to attract a number of legal suits, and there is inadequate internal capacity for procurement and contract management.

Pitched or flat roofing materials is the solution

CHOOSING a roof may at first appear to be a simple question, and is often something which has to be taken much for granted. Firstly, a roof equates to more than 30 percent of the country’s investment, and after all, is the helmet that protects people. So when choosing a roof, great care should be taken. A roof, not only looks so good, but being on top of a house, protects the things people treasure most. Therefore, it is important to carefully consider the options within our budget and more importantly within the environment, whereby the roof will be installed. It is important to realize that, a roof, being on top of the house also has to be the most weather resistant surface area as it’s exposed to the elements 24 hours a day. There are simply two different types of roofing materials available.
(A) Flat: Whilst flat (Concrete) roofs may at first appear to be the simple option, there are always a number of advantages and disadvantages thereupon. These differs in the way they are depending on the prevailing weather conditions as follows:-

1. Cost: is often prohibitive. With the high price of cement in Tanzania and with the steel required, a concrete roof represents a considerable area, and will equates to more than 50 percent of the wet works costs.
2. Waterproofing a flat roof can be very difficult, especially in HOT climates, where your roof is exposed to the harmful effects of the sun’s UV rays 12 hours a day.
3. Insulating the roof is difficult as concrete conducts heat.

A typical roofing materials makes good housing structures like this one.

(B) Pitched: There are numerous options and different products available but when considering which option to take, it is important to realize that a pitched roof represents at least 30 percent of the visual aesthetics of your house. So it is important that the product you choose looks good, and keeps looking good.

One big advantage of a pitched roof then is besides adding the overall look of the house. It affords an effective weather barrier against the elements, at the same time giving a convenient covered access areas to plumbing, electric and water storage.

(C) Tiled Roof: Whilst clay and concrete tiles look good, they are heavy to transport,
Prone to breakage, require a strong support structure and are subject to fade after a prone to fungi growth. Whilst Mabati is lightweight, it is difficult to get away from the Commercial look, and in coastal areas, steel roofs are prone to rust and corrosion.

More and more potential house owners are turning to new pressed Zincalume Steel (which has high corrosion resistant properties) Tiles. Whilst they may appear expensive when all the long term cost factors are considered- they are not more expensive. Being lightweight, they are easy to transport and install, and actually reinforce the roof structure, so less wood is required. Their overlooking design assures they are completely weatherproof, and their unique nailing system makes them almost impossible to remove making them an effective cover against the elements, and criminals in addition, some are coated in a natural rock, one of the few materials which can withstand the harmful effects of the sun.
Solutions:- Trade liberalization and foreign investment has exposed Tanzania to a number of new and technologically advanced solutions for the above. One is a type of waterproofing by “Crystallization” Basically, this is cementitious chemical additive which is either used as an ad-mixture into the concrete, as a top coat. After the cement has cured, this chemical literally grows a fine crystal when exposed to 3 ingredients, Lime, Air and Water. Therefore, working on the principal that should your roof start to leak in a certain area, this will activate the Crystallization process, and crystals will start growing. As a result, within three weeks’ time, they will form fine crystal whilst still allowing the concrete to breath, will form a water-light barrier against moisture penetration. This Crystallization process has been measured to penetrate more than 2 meters of concrete. Obviously this works just as well for water reservoirs, as it does for roofs. With the re-introduction of the gypsum ceilings, it is now possible to install and effective air barrier between the concrete and exterior of the house, as the thermal resistant properties of Gypsum are well-known.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Getting to know drilling water technology services in Tanzania

THE issue of water has become a major concern for the people of Tanzania and the third world countries at large. The government after having seen the escalating problem among its people, decided to transform selected organizations to carry out essential public functions into executive agencies under Civil Service Reform Program. As a result of these government reforms, Drilling and Dams Construction Agency (DDCA) was created under the auspices of the then Ministry of Water and Livestock Development, which has now been changed into Water Development and Irrigation. The firm is a Tanzania’s sole agency that deals with the development of water resources including drilling of water wells and construction of earth-full Dams in order to sustainable allocate available water sources for different uses in the country. The Agency was established in 1997 under the Executive Agencies Act. No. 30 of 1997, and was launched on the 26th of March 1999, (though it came into operation since 1997). The role of the firm is to develop sustainable and safe water sources through efficient means and at a cost effective price, hence contribute to economic growth of the country. This objective is in line with the national objective of alleviating poverty and improving the health of the people in the country through provision of clean, safe and adequate water supply to rural and urban population. DDCA is among the first Executive Agencies established with a view to ensure that water is supplied throughout the country through boreholes especially in the regular areas where the supply is scarce. Specific objectives are to locate and develop safe and sustainable water sources through drilling of deep wells and construction of dams to increase water availability for different socio-economic uses and to provide reliable, timely quality and affordable services to rural, urban and peri-urban population. As a result of a shortage of surface water, it became necessary to exploit ground water through borehole drilling. Out of thousands of water projects that have been initiated in rural Tanzania, boreholes form the majority. DDCA has successfully carried out a number of water projects in the country. Among them are projects concerning boreholes drilling, feasibility studies, design and construction of dams as well as design and construction of water supply systems. Before the firm undertakes its work of drilling a borehole in an area, it normally undergo a topographical survey to determine soil testing and designing of earth fill dams. This is done by a team of professional experts the firm has employed in the field of civil engineering.

A typical example of a modern rig trucks owned by Drilling and Dam Construction Agency based in Dar es Salaam. The trucks are used for drilling boreholes.

The Agency has highly qualified and experienced personnel including, Geologists, Hydro-geologists, Drilling engineers, land surveyors, and civil engineers in fields related to water resources development and management. To ensure an efficient work DDCA’s experts starts with ground water prospecting using modern State-of-the-art technology, drilling operations, measuring yield of water wells and laboratory analysis for water quality, and soil sampling to monitor underground water formations (lithology) Other services the firm executes are the installation of pumping systems e.g diesel, solar or electric driven submersible pumps, hand pumps, training of caretakers on management and maintenance of community water wells and dams, as well as training of hand, electric and solar pumps both surface and sub-surface. Since its formation, the agency has shown a remarkable development by managing to drill an average of 450 boreholes annually compared to an average of 50 to 100, which were drilled per year by the government in previous years before the Agency came into being. Statistics made available by DDCA in the country shows that, over 5,450 boreholes have been successfully drilled by the firm for the last twelve years it has been in existence. For the 2008/09 financial year, the firm drilled a total of 443 boreholes, and out of these 380 boreholes are successful and about 63 were unsuccessful. The boreholes drilled provides water which is essential to life and its availability is crucial to both the industrial and agricultural well-being of a nation. In many African countries, governments have over the years strive to provide clean water to their people. Thus DDCA, having been working together with the international development organizations to establish water projects in rural Tanzania, it has also made it possible the available resources to provide information to their extractions to the directorate of water development in Tanzania. Water supply coverage in Tanzania according to statistics from the Ministry of Water and Irrigation is 53 percent in the rural areas and 73 percent in urban population who are served with clean water. As the human population, industries and irrigation schemes increases, the demand for water increases too and in order to arrest this situation, ground water exploration and exploitation as well as dam construction activities are necessary and DDCA is effective in performing these activities. The impact of low water supply coverage falls primarily on the poor in urban and rural areas where the urban poor may pay high prices to water vendors for small quantities of water often to poor quality. In rural areas, the low water supply coverage manifests itself in low agricultural production and poor quality of life. Water scarcity is therefore experienced in the rural areas where the majority of the people are poor. To rectify the situation, DDCA provides services to all people in urban areas without marginalizing the poor. The agency is willing and has been providing services to the poor villages which are normally unable to pay for construction work. Records show that about 90 percent of deep wells drilled by DDCA are located in rural areas. In urban areas, ground water sources are rapidly developed for individuals and institutions to meet the increasing demand for water supply for socio-economic uses.
DDCA has been able to undertake a number of projects in urban areas including those connected with urban water supplies in regions of Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. The agency has proved to be capable of undertaking the task of constructing new water sources and rehabilitating old ones at affordable costs. The firm has acquired from the government capital assets, which includes operational drilling rigs and earth moving equipment. DDCA is proud to have constructed a number of new dams as well as rehabilitating old ones in the country within the period of its existence. The Mugumu dam project is one aimed at solving the problem of water scarcity in Mugumu town and the surrounding villages. The town is the headquarters of Serengeti district in Mara region. The project’s construction has been revived and is now able to supply water to more than 35,000 residents and about 25,000 livestock in the area. The dam’s storage capacity is about 14 million cubic meters and is now able to supply water for 3 consecutive years incase of prolonged drought. Mwanyahina dam is another project that the agency is proud of, this is in Meatu village in Shinyanga region. The dam was constructed to meet water demand for people and livestock and it has a storage capacity of about 1.5 million cubic meters. Another dam is Kinyambwinga project whose construction provided water to nearly 3,900 people and 44,640 livestock at Kinyambwinga village, Bunda district in Mara region. The dam’s reservoir’s capacity is 108,275 cubic meters of water. New Sola dam at Maswa town is an old one which has been rehabilitated. The dam has been the main source of water to more than 65,000 residents and about 100,000 livestock in Maswa town and 8 surrounding villages since 1974. After its repair, it has an estimated storage capacity of 4.2 million cubic meters. A to Z Textile Mill based in Arusha had its water project which was done by DDCA, and this is to ensure the availability of sufficient water throughout the year in order to increase efficiency and higher production levels by the industry. The mill is a mosquito net industry whose nets are used to reduce the spread of malaria throughout the country. Therefore the project aimed at improving people’s lives. The execution of this project involved the activities such as drilling of three deep and sustainable water boreholes with production capacity of about 270 cubic meters per hour per borehole. The activities at the project also included the construction of two water storage tanks with storage capacity of 500 cubic meters each, installation of pipelines to convey water from the boreholes to the storage tanks and to the factory. Installation of two pumps each with pumping capacity of 80 liters, sand pumping head 75 meters. Construction of two steel water tanks each with storage capacity of 522 cubic meters. Laying of rising main PVC pipes (diameter 25 mm) from pumps house to overhead tank. The agency’s vision aspires to be the leading and most efficient organization in and outside the country in the business of water well drilling and construction of water storage dams, by providing sustainable water sources and ensuring that clients get value for money from services provided. DDCA usually measures the success by the quality of the services that is offered. The firm provides services to its clients according to the set standards deliver not only timely but also quality services, pursuance of efficiency and cost effectiveness in service as well as strong customers focus.
This achievement signifies that DDCA is now able to serve a large number of customers. Therefore, it is one of the reliable institutions in water sources development at present and has won the trust of its customers. The firm’s role in poverty alleviation targets to improve efficiency and effectiveness in delivery of public services through better business and financial management, hence contribute to the economic growth of the country by reducing the total cost of public service. Therefore the firm provides services to all people in urban and in rural areas without marginalizing the poor. The agency has been and is willing to provide water services to the poor villagers who are normally unable to pay for construction works.

How ERB gears for engineers development in Tanzania.

ASCERTAINING and certifying practicing engineers is among the vital roles played by the Engineers Registration Board in the country. The Board ensures that safety standards and quality performances are adhered to at any construction site in order to avoid any possible complaints that may arise from the general public resulting from shoddy construction jobs in various projects undertaken. ERB is one of the most important and the oldest Boards in the history of the construction industry in Tanzania. It’s a statutory body founded in 1968 and later re-established under the Engineers’ Registration Act No. 115 of 1997. The Board is responsible for monitoring and regulating the conduct of engineering practice in Tanzania, regulating engineering activities so as to enhance and strengthen the professional competence of engineers and engineering consulting firms in the country. Hitherto, the board has registered about 8,500 engineers in the country. Among the most important roles being played by ERB is to ensure excellent work performances by engineers along with adherence to the laid-down norms and regulations, registration and implementation of control mechanism to ensure that the end products are well done and safe. To implement its mandate, the Board has the capacity to screen, generate and effect engineering applications as well as offer solutions to engineering-related problems. It is the engineers who conduct research on design, manage operations, maintain and repair structures, machines, plants and equipment. The role of engineers within construction sector in any country is of critical importance to socio-economic development since without a sound infrastructure few industries, if any at all cannot operate efficiently. Engineers have to choose the right material, with high quality and balance them to get value for money. In view of this, Tanzania’s ERB Board is very keen to ensure that construction sector in the country employs a large number of job seekers mostly engineers who are greatly needed for building and maintaining various infrastructure needed for national development. The building of the important infrastructures such as the airports, roads, harbours, sewerage facilities, communication facilities, water treatment plants, drilling boreholes, just to mention but a few entirely depends on engineering knowledge. These are examples of fast growing construction industry for Tanzanian economy. The above mentioned infrastructural facilities are given priority in every development set up. They cannot be taken for granted in the processing of building capacity for infrastructure development.

Water engineers at work in the laboratory at DAWASCO water pumping station at Ruvu in Coast region.

The engineering sector among other things also aims at developing local skills, enhance employment opportunities and produce cadres in the industry who are capable of meeting international professional standards. The development of the construction industry in Tanzania has come up as a result of the economic liberalization which in one way or another has driven the country to enter into the international investment forum in order to acquire formal development within the sector. The major challenge is, however, in regard to construction of roads, particularly those in the rural areas since most of them are in a pathetic situation. The situation is a big challenge to civil engineers, the government and private sector to effectively increase their collaboration in addressing the constraints faced. There is a need for taking some decisive steps and measures to nurture and facilitate the growth and development of reputable local engineers and contractors with the requisite professional skill but lack of capital, the issue of financial capacity and technology is a drawback although these can be addressed via national budgetary allocations. In order to enhance the development goals of engineers in the country, the Engineers Registration Board (ERB) has put down a number of strategies for making sure that all illegal engineering works are banned. The strategies are meant for brushing engineers into getting more knowledge so as to keep them abreast with the changing technologies in this era of science and technology. The Board has put forward the Structured Engineers Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) as well as Continuing Professional Development (CDP) programs. These professional short courses raise the capacity buildings in order to cope with the situation so as to meet engineering development goals. To achieve engineering excellence, the ERB Board has put emphasis as its main strategy, to implement both training courses for the betterment of the engineering community in the country. SEAP and CPD, the two are intensive training programs for practicing engineers in the country. The board hitherto considers these programmes as mandatory to all practicing engineers in the country. In SEAP report made available by the Board this year shows that a total of over 1,310 engineers have benefited from this program which is currently financed by the government and are fit for their work wherever appropriate, and have also gained enough experience. According to the Board’s Registrar, Engineer Steven Mlote, the CDP program helps engineers to cope with the development technologies in order to gain hands on skills as everything is done by use of computers. Under this program, an engineer is liable to complete a minimum of 30 professional development units in a year. These are secured after attending workshops and lectures organized by the Board, then later on exams follows. In total an engineer is required to complete 90 units for three years in order to be assessed. For the last seven years ERB Board has carried its work in all Tanzania’s mainland town councils and helped increased the ability of engineers through this training. However, it’s evident that engineering situation in these councils is now better than before, and the Board anticipates good performance in future. In view of this, scores of professional engineers in towns and district councils has increased together with the construction of important infrastructure such as roads, water, electricity etc. The Board is striving hard to get all engineers trained under this program, but lack of enough budget for training courses is a great impediment. According to him, the Board only takes 22 percent of the total 550 engineering graduates of all disciplines to various internship programs in and outside the country. The annual budget amount of money given to the Board by the government is Tsh. 380 million, yet it’s not enough even to cater for all other Board’s activities that includes site visits and other internal office matters in a year. The Board requires the targeted budget of approximately Tsh. 1.6 billion in order to accomplish all its activities.

In August 2008, President Jakaya Kikwete addressed Tanzanian engineers (not in the picture) for his first time since he entered in power in 2005. This was during the 6th Annual Engineers Day which took place at Kunduchi Beach Hotel on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam city. Seated on his left is ERB Board Chairman, Professor Burton Mwamila

The Board has also checked to its best to see that a contractor in the country does not have an engineer. This exercise has been scrutinized through engineers’ Employment Liaison Facility (ELF). The role of ELF is to ensure that those who seeks engineers get them as well as engineers who looks for employers gets them. The Board has helped over 300 engineers to get employment and 109 employers have managed to get professional engineers of various disciplines, this is after linking with the Board which has for long been establishing a link with employers in terms of working for professionalism through ELF. Other activities the Board contends with includes, site inspection in all bigger construction projects including mining activities taking place in all mining sites in the country, the Board also scrutinizes engineers who works in other private institutions such as in factories and in manufacturing industries. The essence of doing this is to ensure that foreign engineers who are employed to carry out these activities in these project sites have enough experience and skills and furthermore to see if they have been registered by the Board prior to the practice of engineering work in the country as the Board’s rules stipulates. Most engineering firms are reluctant to use professional designers or engineers and instead use unprofessional people who have less knowledge of engineering profession for reasons that the professional bodies are more expensive. Either they use a trick of consulting professional bodies and put on their names on the sign boards at the construction sites on the pretext that bare the ones who does the job whereas is not. Investigations by the Board shows that, this is what happens in some of the high rise buildings in some towns and cities in the country. In order to curb the escalating habit which is a challenge, the Board has laid down strategic means of doing site audits in collaborating with other Boards so as to net the culprits. The audit works involves also to find if such sites have enough workers with engineering professional experience on their projects and scrutinize all workers carrying the activities in various industries to see if they have the ability to supervise such construction projects. This is the task that the Board undertakes in order to avoid shoddy construction so as to ensure that engineers in the country are trustworthy, innovative and respected with strong commitments to better quality work as directed in the code of conduct and ethics of engineers. According to ERB Board, it’s clear to engineers that the engineering community in Tanzania is a working brigade for stimulating and spearheading socio-economic development in the country. Outlining the main challenges and problems facing the Board since its re-establishment in 1997, ERB’s Registrar Engineer Steven Mlote noted that, lack of fund to run the entire office activities is a major impediment to the development of the Board. Other problems are lack of the office space, the current office which is along Pamba street in Dar es Salaam is not spacious enough to accommodate the need of the Board members. Another serious problem is lack of transport which is still a big problem facing the Board an aspect that the Board sometimes fails to monitor all its businesses pertaining to engineering works. The main challenges facing the engineering profession in the country is that many engineers shun this profession and joins other professional fields for reasons that it is not paying well, bearing in mind that engineering studies are very tough to understand. Many Tanzanian students do not want to undergo engineering studies on the claims that the content subjects are very tough and if successfully completed their benefits are too little compared to other professional jobs. In view of this fact, the Board has urged the government through the Higher Education Student’s Loan Board (HESLB) to give 100 percent loan to students pursuing engineering profession in various higher learning institutions in the country as inducement to attract more students to learn engineering profession. The Board is on the view of the fact that, they expect to double the number of engineers to 1,000 from the current 550 graduates following the mushrooming of higher learning institutions in the country together with the newly established Dodoma University. According to the statistics made available by the ERB Board, the international ratio standard required of engineers and technicians is that, 1 engineer should have 5 technicians. But in Tanzania, there is a reverse trend in the manner that, there are no enough technicians, and therefore more effort is hereby required to train more technicians as well.

ICTs are necessary tools for contractors

The world is no doubt changing faster than anticipated by most people, including contractors. Indeed, as times change so does the technology. This in turn creates more changes not only on the way we do things but the way we perceive them. Failure to embrace technology in appropriate use is fast creating a chasm between what is referred to as “briefcase” and tomorrow’s contractors.
One area that is witnessing an avalanche of changes is the construction industry that is being forced to grapple with customers who are more knowledgeable, exposed and sophisticated than those of the yore – customers who know precisely what they want in a house. Three inevitable aspects of tomorrow’s contractor that must be made to work in conjunction are enlisted below.

Information technology
Smart contractors of tomorrow are left with no option but to stretch their abilities and imaginations further than the traditional hammer and tongs construction methods and just a college degree in related field. They cannot ignore is the use of Information Technology in achieving their goals. Over years, the IT world has been undergoing tremendous changes, becoming highly specialized for many tasks. This not has only positively affected the speed with which projects are done, but also improved on the efficiencies and accuracies in accomplishing them. A good contractor must be able to work from anywhere and at any time. Use of modern gadgets such as laptops, digital cameras is a must, not forgetting internet. Internet connectivity should include bandwidth, backups and network services which are basic in any modern office setup and relatively easy to install. For those operating in far-flung sites, where hard wire access is not easily available, wireless and remote location systems are essential. Wireless systems will connect the contractor’s office to worksite at any time, day or night.

Outsourcing engineering work is successful by use of computers.

Software development
All the way from design to completion of any project, software has been developed that utilise methods of cost analysis processes by subdividing the costs of building into functional elements. Packages that are helpful to the draughtsman, structural engineer, physical and cost planning and many other aspects of building are in the offing today. Software packages integrate professional skills thus enabling the contractor to make concise construction costs in tabular and written forms for his understanding in different areas of construction such as, Concrete volumes, Structural elements – diameter of steel, Reinforcement and weight, Brick, plaster, flooring and skirting areas, Cost estimates for user provided item rates, Generation of visual 2D and 3D models, plans others.

Outsourcing in construction
Though the entire concept of outsourcing is catching up in Tanzania, and is being viewed as revolutionary but it is not a new concept elsewhere in the world. Indeed, we are a long way from the even understanding what it entails, let alone practicing it. It seems that increased tight budgets are forcing more construction companies to reassess the situation because among the most important aspect of construction business is cost cutting and the other is efficiency. Other than maintain multidisciplinary staffs in your company, say, plumbers, joiners, bricklayers, electricians, landscapers outsourcing such services will become popular with time. Outsourcing, which is referred in construction circles as “contracting out”, is a proven method not only cuts on the costs for the contractor but also improves the quality of the end product, providing the expertise and innovation not available with the in-house staffs. In the long run, by contracting out to public and other companies, stimulation of production occurs thus improving the tax base of the country

Customer care for “service is intangible”
During one of the Customer Care training attended by this writer in the past, the phrase that “service is not tangible” surfaced somewhere during the discourses. Unlike products that one can pick off the supermarket stalls, where it won’t matter so long as the product can work, presenting service to the customer must include an element of “personal touch” in it. Word of mouth spreads fast and no amount of advertising can save a contractor of interpersonal relationship between him and the customer is relegated to play the second fiddle. A recommendation by a satisfied customer to another prospective customer by word of mouth is perhaps one of the distinguishing factors of a good from a bad contractor. It therefore becomes imperative that while any contractor worth a salt pursues excellence in the look and quality of final products, the human touch should never be forgotten.

An International company that is always on new frontiers.

MOHAMMED Abdulmohsin Al-Kharafi & Sons (M.A. Kharafi & Sons) is an international construction company with over 900 staff both technical and supporting employees world wide. The company has been offering services for over 100 years in the field of building and civil works. The company’s contribution has been an added value to the national economic development of Tanzania since its incorporation in 1994. The firm is a private Kuwait –based Group, with diversified interests and activities worldwide. It was established mainly as a trading company more than 100 years ago and has since developed into an international Grade “A” Contractor. Following World War II and the discovery of oil in Kuwait, Kharafi expanded in response to the demands of the rapidly developing nation. In 1956, the Factories Division was created with 25 employees and 200 labourers. Shortly afterwards, with the advent of the construction boom in the Gulf spurred by the continuing build-up of oil wealth in the region, Kharafi’s Construction Division quickly assumed a dominant role. It was the company’s success at home, which propelled it into foreign ventures and the establishment of permanent branches abroad. Major landmarks were Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1965), United Arab Emirates (1968), Yemen (1975, Egypt (1980) and in Kenya (1982). Other countries it has opened its branches are in Botswana (1989), the Maldives (1989), Niger (1992), Albania (1992), Lesotho (1992), Lebanon (1994), South Africa (1995), Indonesia (1996), Eritrea (1996) and in Tanzania (1994). These are the major thriving regional offices controlled by the company. Apart from establishing various branch offices in these countries, the company has or is executing several projects in Mozambique, Belize, St. Kitts & Nevis, Antigua and St. Lucia in the West Indies. Currently the company has employed over 700 technical staff, over 200 supporting staff and engages over 4000 skilled, semiskilled and unskilled labour. The company has been in operation in Tanzania since 1994 with a mission of concentrating mostly in building and civil construction works of the highest quality to three main service fields, including engineering, environmental and economics.

Kharafi headquarter building in Kuwait.

The engineering work in these chosen fields has been very positive and the company has extended its activities accordingly. This development however, involves very differing trends in the various segments of the market. The company has grown considerably and has acquired invaluable experience in the fields of road construction in the country, and can proudly proclaim to be one of the leading firms in the area of road construction works. One of the greatest challenges facing many parts of southern Tanzania, is to build up a reliable and formidable road infrastructure. In view of this, M.A Kharafi & Sons company has been working closely and in collaboration with the government to develop, rehabilitate and maintain good infrastructure. Between 2003 and 2007, the company designed and constructed a 96 km of Mbwemkulu-Mingoyo road in a contract value of US$ 52,250,000 and Ndundu – Somanga Road which is in progress. Both roads covers southern network in the country. Apart from road construction, the company has earned reputation in construction of buildings as well as rehabilitation works. In 1997, Kharafi was awarded various contracts such as the Ubungo Plaza, LAPF Millenium Tower buildings in the city of Dar es Salaam. It has also done some rehabilitation works in some of the famous buildings in the city of Dar es Salaam, these are the rehabilitation work of NBC house along Sokoine Drive and the rehabilitation of Muhimbili National Hospital also in Dar es Salaam. However efforts are being made by the company to secure more projects in Tanzania and the East African Region. The firm is wholly owned by the Kharafi family under the Chairmanship of Jassim M. A. Kharafi. The company derives its strength from its dedicated engineers and other technical staff with proven experience. These are backed up with an updated equipment and plant capability which gives the company the capacity to undertake civil engineering projects of varied nature.

In Tanzania, A.M. Kharafi & Sons company constructed a 72 Km road stretch of the southern network popularly known as Mbwemkuru-Mingoyo Road.

Another strength of Kharafi over the years has been its diversity in geographical locations – from the Middle East to Africa, Asia to Europe and the Caribbean, thus assuring the company of the Worldwide human resource input to managerial, technical and business objectives of the company. In order to maximize the use of precious time in the coordination of Worldwide activities, the principal of the firm makes company’s principals make use of the Company’s own aircraft for efficiency and flexibility. The aircraft is an 8 – seater Hawker Siddley HS 125-800. After the introduction of the Data General mainframe C-150 series in 1981, Kharafi then implemented the Prime 750 mainframe that facilitated remote access through terminals situated at site locations.
After liberation of Kuwait, The company decided to leapfrog into the advancing World of PC power. High capacity servers supporting symmetrical processing were called upon to handle multi-user network capabilities, supported by 100 user Local Area Networks running the integrated financial applications. The physical and logical connectivity of these networks were done by in-house staff. Kharafi furthered this achievement with their first ever-imaging database system supporting their payroll and personnel. In tendering and construction process, tender quotations are now electronically generated by highly qualified company’s engineering team. A total CAD environment, supplements the project management tools controlling the CPM scheduling, performance measurement, cash flow forecasting and project follow-up control concurrent management interface modules provide executive summary presentations.

Among the famous structure the company has put in the world map is the Kuwait stadium in Kuwait.

M. A. Kharafi & Sons is presently incorporating a high-end multi-processor SPARC server on which 4GL databases in Informix will be kept. Concentration is also focused on the installation of X.25 lines in order to facilitate the bridging of various diversified servers through available protocol. The company’s strength in computerization lies with its MIS resources, which handles all automation aspects unconditionally. The MAK/MIS development group, network specialists, maintenance and support personnel, debugging squad, training and coordinating staff and research team form the basis of its computerization success. The company continues to regularly formulate strategies ensuring its progress in automation, through its dedicated support of its automation team and by investing in positive futuristic goals. The company’s philosophy of management is to cultivate self-confidence, encourage decision making to foster the entrepreneurial spirit, combine it with strict business discipline with the latest technology and business methods and preserve the environment for humanity. Highlighting the main problem facing the construction industry in Tanzania, M.A Kharafi & Sons company says that Tanzania, as in other developing countries, is growing slowly due to high cost of building materials an aspect that it cannot meet the economic demands of the nation. The country’s policy of opening up for foreign investment will alleviate the problem. Kharafi, with its capability and experience in working in developing countries, will undertake construction projects, transfer skills and invest in this country in the spirit of the South – South cooperation. M. A. Kharafi & Sons is not only an International Grade A contractor but looks for other investment opportunities. Tanzania being politically stable, gives a good business atmosphere, conducive for investment. In view of this, the company is looking for the possibilities to invest in Hotels, Supermarkets, Estate Developments and Paper Industry in Tanzania.

Road Networking of the city of Dar es Salaam

THE Upgrading of Kilwa Road project in Dar es Salaam city whose construction works started in early 2007 has brought some major economic changes along the road as commuters can now travel with less expectation of experiencing traffic jam on the way. The project involved the widening of the existing 12 Kms two lanes single carriageway road between Bendera Tatu and Mbagala Rangi Tatu to a four lane dual carriageway bitumen road with a provision for pedestrian walkways on each side. The road had been designed to have a provision for the Bus Rapid Transit project which will be implemented by the Dar es Salaam city council in earnest, says a road expert with Tanzania Roads Agency (TANROADS) Engineer James Nyakabari of TANROADS.
Tanzania Roads Agency (TANROADS) which has been charged with the responsibility for its upgrading on behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure Development in the country, has determined to provide a solution to the unbearable traffic congestion problem which had been facing the area.

A stretch of 12 km single lane carriageway of the Kilwa Road which was recently rehabilitated in the city of Dar es Salaam

The road which was being upgraded by a Japanese construction firm, M/S Kajima Corporation Limited, is part of the main urban ring roads in the city of Dar es Salaam that links with the southern Tanzanian regions. The road serves traffic destined to and from various centers such as Kariakoo, Temeke district and the main city center. Based on this high traffic volume and the poor condition of the road, congestion especially at peak hours in the morning and evenings necessitated the expansion and upgrading of the road.
In 2003, the government decided to widen the road due to the increase in traffic. Initially the plan was to start with the construction of the two kilometers stretch between the Nelson Mandela road junction at the Tanzania Institute of Accountancy and Mtoni Kwa Azizi Ally. The detailed design for the two kilometers was carried out and tenders for works were invited in October 2004. While evaluation of the tenders was in progress, the government of Japan offered to finance the widening of the whole road from Bendera Tatu to Mbagala Rangi Tatu including its design and supervision in response to a request which had earlier been made by the government of Tanzania.

Despite of the upgrading of Kilwa Road into a dual carriageway, still there is a transport problem facing commuters along the route and this is due to the shortage of commuter buses plying between Kariakoo and Mbagala kuu. Before its rehabilitation, Kilwa Road was the most notorious routes with heavy traffic jam coming and going out of the city of Dar es Salaam during peak hours.)

The detailed design for the whole road was carried out by construction project consultant Inc (CPC) of Japan and completed in October 2006. Tenders for construction were invited in November 2006 and the evaluation of the tenders was carried out in December 2006. Three Japanese firms namely Daio Nippon Construction, Kajima Corporation and Konoike construction participated. Following the evaluation of the tenders, Kajima Corporation Ltd, emerged the winner and a contract was signed in Japan between TANROPADS on behalf of the government of Tanzania and M/S Kajima corporation for a contract price of Tshs. 10.3 billion. TANROADS was represented by its Chief Executive Officer. The contract period inclusive of mobilization periods is one year with effect from March 2007. The contract covers the first 5 kilometers from Bendera Tatu. The next 7 kilometers followed after the proposed exchange of notes between the governments of Tanzania and Japan during this year’s 2008/09 financial year. The design and the composition used in construction of road is a mixed up of the normal materials used for road construction. These components are the gravel, course aggregates and fine aggregates which are mixed up with cement.

Giving locks high priority of safety in buildings

SECURITY locks in buildings are essential because their presence in doors ensures safety. Suppliers of these materials do all they can in order to make their products available in the market in order to suit stakeholders of the construction industry. Locks in doors provides an ultimate solution of safety for individual’s security in a house or room. Unlike the presence of a surveillance camera in a building compound, this is an electronic security device used specifically to monitor movements of the people around though its usefulness helps monitor peoples’ movements and detection. Right options and measures taken in order to enhance security for doors of any protected property which has been kept in a house or inside a room, is by the use of sophisticated locking materials whose presence in doors ensures maximum safety. It is also sometimes advisable to put a high security steel doors alongside with the high security locks. More than one security measure can be used with the use of various locking materials unpredictability of the crime and its occurrences, makes the choice of security measures and options a vital matter for owners or occupants in residential and commercial buildings. The supply of equipments needed for security purposes in doors and elsewhere such as the Padlocks is more than sufficient to meet the demand whether through contractual agreement. The tendency to identify one measure as most effective is actually a wrong notion since the most feasible way of enhancing security of any protected property is by means of a concentric ring of security measures designed to discourage or deter intruders.

One of the special door locks which is being opened by pressing a knob

Measures such as the use of padlocks and grills in the house need to be complemented by such security systems as proper fencing alarm systems and electronic devices. The bottom line is that a combined application of available option and systems gives a more effective way of guaranteeing security and ensuring that targeted properties or individuals become hard to access therefore discourage intruders or thieves. However, there are many best lock brands which provides locking solutions in the world nowadays. These brands are dedicated to providing the most appropriate locking solution and to contribute to new standards of security throughout the world. One brand, the UNION, the oldest and probably the leading specification brands in the market for locks in East Africa. The brand that is a apart of the South Africa based ASSA ABBLOY group, has undergone a complete change with an eye-catching red logo and attractive new packaging with an anti-counterfeit hologram. The multi-layered hologram is a key anti-counterfeit feature on its new packaging and it shows the UNION logo imposed on world globe and each hologram has a unique number.‘YALE’ is another world’s favorite locks’ the brand has been in the market within East Africa’s region ever since pre-colonial period. The YALE brand can even up to now been seen in many buildings built during those times and many of whom were owned by colonialists like government houses. But now YALE brand has come up with a security grading systems and are also partly being carried by the ASSA ABBLOY group of Tanzania since October 2003. The YALE brand has been positioned towards the retail/residential market and it is being promoted with an informative grading system to assist the consumer in making the right choice when buying a lock. ‘SOLEX’ is one of the sophisticated brands which entered into the market in late eighties. Solex locks are top security and high quality products, and are also used in car doors and their specification mechanism has been so difficult to be tampered. It’s really a safe lock for cars, door hardware and security doors through master key systems to state-of-the-art electromechanical locks. The brand that is being manufactured by the Solex International Co. Ltd, have their representatives all over the world. Solex brands for cars are different in shape and size compared to those brands used as padlocks for doors in buildings. According to a Dar es Salaam based Kara Traders Limited located at the heart of the city, a sole suppliers and sellers of the products, there are various types of the solex brands ranging from Mortise lockset, Handle lockset, Door knob, Lever handle and Padlock. These are made up of different sizes and are cost effective as well.

Vinyl flooring products enters Tanzania market

VINYL flooring involves the work of carpeting the floor or walls by using special hard types of carpet materials, and carpeting are products to decorate every room. A Dar es Salaam based Morco Textiles Limited has a line up of up-to-date products that suits every style to help home owners to achieve a decorative outlook. They are the quickest, simplest and most affordable products to change the look and feel of any room, be they office or homerooms. From a vast selection of carpeting of different types to find a style to fit every room, hall or conference rooms etc. Vinyl flooring is the most popular flooring options for most people given their warmth, comfort inducing and sound proofing abilities. A wide array of carpets designs, colours, qualities are available to the customers, and their choice depends on the individual customer preferences. Vinyl flooring is frequently used in healthcare facilities because it is nearly impervious to water, offering a significant sanitary advantage over carpeting or floor and wall tiles. These characteristics are particularly important in hospital rooms, extended care facilities, nursing homes and day care centers, operation theaters, maternity wards, medical labs, etc. Vinyl carpets adapts to all circumstances and is perfect for people who keep open house, for movement of seats and cushions. They are a real treat for active families. The application of vinyl products is not only done in buildings, but it’s essential for all environment from the interior of buildings to transport sectors including public buses, ships, ferry boats as well as customers logos for companies. Home owners need to think of their vinyl carpets as long-term investments just as the other furniture in the house. That is why one should not settle for poor quality carpets. When shopping for vinyl carpets, it makes sense to buy one from Morco Textile Ltd.

Vinyl flooring is made stiff by the application of heat on the ceiling.

Founded in 1974, Morco Textiles Ltd has a vast experience in drapery and carpeting, assuming a significant role in furnishing industry in the city of Dar es Salaam and throughout Tanzania. The company imports quality vinyl products from South Africa based agents who places the order that is brought by the manufacturer from a UK based Manchester Polyfloor company. Other company’s products are imported from China, Spain, Brazil, Kenya and UEA. The company is the market leader in the field of home and office furnishing, involving cushion materials, various types of carpets, blinds and many more services. Other allied products are curtain material stitching, carpet laying, sale of doormats of various sizes and cut to measure, curtain rods and fixtures, re-upholstery, rugs, bedside carpets, vinyl carpets and many others. While the company’s focus is primarily on commercial sector, its experience and reputation for good performance makes it the first choice for many homeowners, as well as building and development companies, architectural firms and designers. The products have helped the company to provide the customer with the widest possible selection of furnishing collection and styles, the best service and visualization gear in business, and unusual and unique specialty products that allow the customer to create the home or office of their dreams. There are some basic factors to be taken into consideration when determining which flooring material to select for a specific application. For example, the flooring may need to stand up to rolling carts or support standing (static) loads. Moisture resistance may be crucial, or resistance to fading. Many commercial sheet vinyl floor installations offer sealed or welded seams that prevent contaminants from being lodged in the seam area. And with fewer seams than most other hard surface floors, bacteria have fewer places to hide and grow. Disinfectant cleaners can provide a sterile surface without damaging the floor.

A technical expert from South Africa showing his expertise in vinyl carpet flooring in a building.

An interior design of the room decorated with vinyl carpet flooring.

Design flexibility
The benefits of Vinyl sheet flooring and tile are available in myriad styles and colours. Vinyl tiles is available in shapes that can be custom cut and laid out in patters using different colours or finishes. Tiles can be arranged, for example, to depict a corporate logo or to guide traffic in a hospital or retail setting. Virtually any look can be obtained to suit and d├ęcor including classic looks that simulate wood and ceramic.
Vinyl flooring reduces noise and provide comfort underfoot. Unlike such hard surfaces as wood, laminate, terrazzo or ceramic tile, vinyl floors have “give” and thus are referred to as “resilient” flooring.
Vinyl flooring is durable and time tested, maintaining its beauty under heavy foot traffic and use. It is moisture and stain resistant, so spills can be easily removed. When compared to alternative materials, vinyl offers an attractive installed cost with economical maintenance over the life of the floor.
Today’s vinyl floors are made to enhance the aesthetic feature of an interior environment. While often mimicking the look of other hard surfaces, they are warmer than ceramic tile. Designers can use pattern and colour to make a large room seem smaller or a small room more expensive. And since vinyl; is durable, the colour and original appearance will last longer with routine maintenance.
Safety features
A wide range of both tile and sheet vinyl floors are available with enhanced slip-retardant surfaces. These floors are suitable for a variety of commercial and institutional applications. Because they are vinyl, these slip-resistant surfaces can be easily cleaned.