|Dodoma town, Tanzania.|
- LOCATION: Situated in the geographical centre of the country; 486 kilometres (302 miles) west of the former capital Dar es Salaam and 441 kilometres (274 miles) south of Arusha. It is also 259 km north of Iringa through Mtera. It covers an area of 2,669 square kilometres (1,031 sq mi) of which 625 square kilometres (241 sq mi) is urbanised.
- THE DECISION: Designated new national capital since 1973 by President Julius Nyerere (pending complete transfer of official functions from Dar es Salaam.
- FIRST STEPS: On October 6, 1973, following the decision, founding President, Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, established a ministerial portfolio and set up the Capital Development Authority (CDA) as the Government Implementing agency for the task.
- ECONOMY: Surrounding region is a market centre for groundnuts, castor beans, sunflower seeds, gum, maize, rice, wheat, coffee, tea, tobacco, and sorghum. Grape farming has made the region the country’s leading wine production centre. Cattle raising is important throughout the region.
- TRANSPORTATION: The new capital city is connected by air, road and rail. Relocation of the national capital began in earnest in the early 1980s and was scheduled to be completed in 2005; at that point, however, only the legislature regularly convened there. The population is primarily agricultural.
In separate interviews with this newspaper on Sunday, Dodoma Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Jordan Rugimbana and the Deputy Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Engineer Edwin Ngonyani, said the government was now ready more than ever before for the move.
Mr Rugimbana said the region had laid strategies in place, including demarcating land for provision of various services to accommodate the government and its institutions and expansion of other services such as health and education.
“We expect an influx of people moving to Dodoma from Dar es Salaam and other regions. So we are preparing to accommodate all of them, including students. This includes boosting social services, such as medical care,” he noted.
He said the government, including ministries and other institutions, will be located at Ihumwa near the Chamwino State Lodge; earmarked to serve as the State House. Other earmarked sites include land for the construction of residential, commercial buildings and other services.
According to the Dodoma RC, prior to President Magufuli’s announcement over the weekend, the Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa, had directed the region to allocate land for inland ports and commercial hub, which are now in place.
“The inland port (dry dock) and commercial hub in Dodoma will serve regions around the capital city, which means business people will not have to travel all the way to Dar es Salaam to get their containers or purchase goods that they would have otherwise bought at Kariakoo,’ he explained.
He added that the inland port will also increase efficiency at the Dar es Salaam Port. Although Dodoma Region is preparing for the move, Mr Rugimbana said ministries and government institutions can start moving to Dodoma and make use of various ministerial offices and government buildings in the capital city as they await construction of permanent offices at Ihumwa.
“Dodoma Region is pleased with Dr Magufuli’s commitment to move to Dodoma and we as a region are prepared to implement and ensure this is completed within five years,” he enthused. Eng. Ngonyani said the current Dodoma’s road infrastructure was well planned to accommodate the government’s move from Dar es Salaam. He noted that the most pressing need and which Premier Majaliwa directed recently was the expansion of Dodoma Airport to accommodate bigger aircraft.
“If there will be any other need - and if directed by the central government we will address it. But currently, the infrastructure in Dodoma is capable to accommodate the move ... this has been evident also during parliamentary budget sessions when the whole government operated from Dodoma,” Eng. Ngonyani explained.
Efforts to reach the Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliament, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled), Ms Jenista Mhagama, were futile. However, she was recently quoted saying that the government is preparing a bill that will recognise Dodoma as the capital city.
Ms Mhagama said the bill, which will be presented in Parliament will also address challenges facing the Capital Development Authority (CDA) and the general public. Currently, Dodoma is recognised as the designated capital of Tanzania, but no legislation was passed to declare the announcement, which would have pushed the government to shift from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma.
Dodoma Urban MP and Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office (Labour, Youth and Employment) Anthony Mavunde expressed his happiness over Dr Magufuli’s commitment to move the government to Dodoma, noting that it is 40 years since Mwalimu Julius Nyerere designated Dodoma as the capital city. He said the move will help boost the economy of the city and surrounding regions, underscoring the importance of the move to the lives of the general public in the region. “This is one of CCM’s agenda during our campaigns last year and I am very happy that it is coming to fruition.
I urge all business people in Dodoma and other regions to take advantage of this opportunity to invest in the capital city,” he said. Meanwhile, academicians have hailed President John Magufuli’s commitment to move the government to Dodoma, 40 years after it was first announced as the capital city by Mwalimu Nyerere.
University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) Lecturer, Dr Benson Bana, was pleased that the 5th Phase government has at last shown resolute commitment to move to Dodoma following the president’s announcement at the CCM national congress over the weekend.
“I commend President Magufuli as he has indeed walked the talk ever since he took office and we are sure this will be fulfilled. The move to Dodoma will also help cut costs incurred by the government during parliamentary sessions in terms of per diems and different allowances, including fuel and accommodation for government officials,” he noted.
He added:”This will also provide a good opportunity for the government to plan Dar es Salaam as a commercial hub while current government offices can be rented out to provide revenue to the government.”
Another UDSM Lecturer, Dr Bashiru Ally, said the move will provide an easy way for Tanzanians from all regions to access the government since Dodoma is at the centre of the country.
Dr Ally noted that the idea to make Dodoma the capital city was first mooted in 1970 by the then Tanganyika African National Union (TANU) because it was at the centre of the country, which means it would be easier for the government to provide services to the public equally all over the country.
In his maiden speech as the new CCM National Chairman, President Magufuli expressed his commitment to transfer all government offices and institutions to Dodoma before the end of his first term in office.
“If we have been able to accommodate all the delegates in Dodoma and all Members of Parliament (MPs) have been staying for months here, I believe we can be able to transfer our offices before the end my first term in office, he said.
Dr Magufuli said he would be the first to shift to Dodoma, adding that there was no way other top leaders, including the vice-president and the prime minister could stay in Dar es Salaam.