Advice given by World Bank to government officials against demolishing over 1,200 houses between Ubungo and Kimara suburbs of Dar es Salaam to pave way for a six-lane highway has saved them from losing their houses.
The over 8,000 residents who had already been served with letters by Tanzania Roads Agency (TANROADS) last year said they approached the World Bank officials in Dar es Salaam to plead with them to stop the demolitions.
“World Bank officials promised us to talk to government officials about our fate last year and it made a difference,” said one of the residents, Adam Mahadhi who was among those who visited the bank’s offices in the country.
Mahadhi said after seeing that their efforts to block the demolitions could not be guaranteed by court orders because letters of warning were served to them anyway, they decided to seek World Bank intervention.
“World Bank officials said they were increasingly concerned that projects that they were financing were being associated with gross violation of human rights including demolishing houses without compensation,” he noted.
Earlier this week, TANROADS Dar es Salaam Regional Manager, Engineer Joseph Nyamhanga said the demolition exercise has been suspended until further notice when the Bus Rapid Transit project financed by World Bank is completed.
The $33bn project is being financed by World Bank as phase two of the project to ease commuter transport and traffic jams in the commercial capital. Nyamhanga said the residents whose houses are within 90 meters of road reserve had been sparred but did not give reason for the suspension.
Sources said the World Bank had threatened not release funds for the project if demolition had gone ahead because the public is increasingly associating the Bretton Wood institution with destruction of their homes which is a violation of human rights as enshrined in United Nations Charter.