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       Chapter I: The Capital in its Regional and National Setting

Dodoma — The Site for Tanzania's Capital


Bagamoyo, on the Indian Ocean, was the first seat of government and the administrative headquarters of what is now mainland Tanzania. But it was early in 1891 that the German Colonizers moved the Capital to Dar es Salaam which, with its great natural harbour, had more strategic advantages. Notwithstanding the area's hot and humid climate and the prevalence of malaria, Dar es Salaam remained the Capital City for eighty-two years.

However, during much of this period, alternative locations for the Capital were often considered, mostly in the country's central highlands. As early as 1915, Dodoma, together with Arusha, Iringa, Lushoto and Mpwapwa, was being examined for this purpose, but imperial strategy was thought to be more important than healthy and attractive living conditions, and Dar es Salaam remained the Capital.

After Tanzania's Independence in 1961, the question of relocating the Capital once again became the subject for debate; this time within the context of national needs, policies and priorities. Dodoma, Iringa, Arusha and Tabora were all discussed as potential sites, with Dodoma being favoured. But it was not until 1972 that the Mwanza Region Executive Committee of TANU formally proposed that the Capital be moved from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma. The Central Committee of TANU put the matter before the party organization in the form of a country-wide referendum, the result of which showed 18 Regions and 1859 Branches in favour and 3 Regions and 842 Branches against.

At the 16th Biennial Conference of TANU on the 1st of October, 1973, the President announced the Party's decision to move the National Capital from Dar es Salaam to Dodoma over a ten-year period.

'Capital Development Authority, Report and Accounts 1974, pp. 6-8.

The process which finally resulted in Dodoma's selection as the location of the new Capital involved many years of careful examination and debate. The principal factors on which the choice was based included:

TDodoma's central position in the country

Tanzania covers 937,580 square kilometres. The government of such a vast area depends to a great extent on communication, both outwards and inwards, and this is made easier if the seat of government is in a reasonably central position. It has added importance when — as in Tanzania — a high priority is placed on widespread village and rural development and where it is Government policy to maintain close and direct links with the rural population. Dodoma's position at the junction of six major surface routes ideally suits it to these needs.

Its position in a rural hinterland

For the same reason, a government which is concentrating on rural development is best located in a rural environment. Dodoma is at the centre of Tanzania's Ujamaa village heartland. It is an appropriate setting for an Ujamaa capital, where the problems and progress of neighbouring villages will be in daily evidence.

Its development needs

Dodoma is lagging behind other regions in its development. To a large extent this is because of its precarious climate, with uneven rainfall causing irregular cycles of drought. The building of the Capital will confer large, lasting and even revolutionary benefits on the region as a whole.

Its agreoable environment

The Dodoma area offers many pleasing sites, as well as a climate which, despite erratic rainfall, can be comfortable and pleasant, factors which should not be underestimated in the creation of desirable urban societies. In this respect, Tanzania's Capital will join such other capital cities as Nairobi, Lusaka, Lilongwe and Gaborone, all of which are admirable sites for the development of urban amenities and healthy living.

Its existing infrastructure

In addition to its established position as Tanzania's main cross-roads and as a major railway centre, Dodoma has a basic, if small, municipal infrastructure; lighting, water, shops and so on, sufficient to serve the early needs of the Capital development programme, yet not so large as to impede future planning.

The Deficiencies of Dar es Salaam

While these arguments alone, already clearly favour the Dodorna area as the new Capital of Tanzania, they are strengthened by an examination of the growing problems of the former Capital. Dar es Salaam has a limited area for economical urban expansion, congested transportation facilities, substantial industrial growth and a surge of new population. Added to these are its uncomfortable climate and its isolation from most of the country.

Dar es Salaam is a dominant focus of most development, the antithesis of what Tanzania is aiming for, and is growing at a pace, which, if not checked, will damage the city as a human habitat and Tanzania as an egalitarian socialist state.

Dar es Salaam, even with the relocation of the seat of Government, still is an attractive, cosmopolitan city and will continue to occupy its rightful position as the major port of Tanzania, as well as of Zambia, Rwanda, Burundi and Eastern Zaire.

All in all, the move of the Capital to Dodoma is expected to be a major contribution to a future where Tanzania achieves for her people the kind of life they desire as individuals and as a nation.


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Copyright: Project Planning Associates Limited, Toronto, Canada, directed by Mr. Macklin Hancock and recipient "The Government of Tanzania, Capital Development Authority under the auspices of Mr. George Kahama.".