Had the opportunity to visit Dar es Salaam for the first time in thirteeen years, last week. having grown up there in my early childhood, I have always had an affinity for the place and I have always felt comfortable there. So it was a journey that could not have come to soon.
The Precision air flight was smack bang on time. And my initial reservations that it was a turbo prop aircraft (propellar to you and I) were soon proved unfounded as the ATR 72 was new, smart, comfy and surprisingly quiet. Julius Nyerere international airport was pretty much the same as I remember, though a bit shabby around the edges ( only Entebbe Airport, in the region, has had its look updated recently).
The night drive into the city revealed well tarmacked and lined roads, with street signs and traffic lights all along the route. It took 15 minutes to get to our 5 star hotel in the city centre. The doormen were polite, but did not help us out of the taxi van, not take our bags. When we completed checking in we wheeled our suitcases by ourselves to our rooms……..enough said.
The morning revealed a surprising sight as numerous sky scrapers aprung into view. I could not resist a walk into town, where I saw more and more sky scrapers under construction, a building boom is clearly in progress. The architecture is stunning.
The old houses and national housing flats in the city center, close to the state house and the sea are all being gradually pulled down and fancy modern buildings are going up in their place. The streets in this quarter are well maintained, marked and tree lined……very pleasant indeed.
The internationally branded hotels abound: southern sun, holiday in, movenpick, kempinski. There are more accross the creek in Kigamboni, where the best beaches are and tourism is set to take off. A sense of business and investment that I have never noticed before can be felt all over.
The Gymkhana club with its golf course adds to the green and spacious feeling that one gets in parts of the CBD. I walked throught he area and down Ocean road and Loved it. Though beware of muggers after dusk.
The roads in the city are something that really makes me wonder why kampala or nairobi cannot get it right. There is just tis sense of order and town planning in the CBD that makes want to imagine what this place will look like in 3-5 years time. Our stereotype of Dar es Salaam is well on its way to a technical knock out.