SONGEA-MAKAMBAKO ROAD PROJECT, TANZANIA
The Project - The Evaluation - Overall Conclusion - The Main Findings - Lessons - Further Information
The upgrading of the Songea-Makambako road in Tanzania, funded by ODA, began
in 1980 and was completed in 1985. The road, which is 322km long, is part of
the national arterial transport network and links Songea, the regional
headquarters of Ruvuma Region in Southern Tanzania with Makambako in the
north, which is on the Tanzam highway. It is the only all-weather route
between southern Tanzania and the rest of the country. The final cost to ODA
has been £92m compared with the original grant of £39m. Costs met by the
Government of Tanzania were £11m, as against £2m foreseen at appraisal.
The evaluation was undertaken by a geographer from Lancaster Polytechnic, a
sociologist from St Anthony's College, Oxford and a transport economist from
IT Transport Ltd. Because of data inadequacies in the original socio-economic
baseline study and the rapidly changing economic circumstances in Tanzania at
the time of the study in late 1987, it was decided to undertake an
interim evaluation, comprising a baseline survey of transport and
socio-economic conditions along the road, an assessment of the short-term
impact of the project and the identification of key variables needed to
measure the road's impact, and proposals for monitoring them until a full
evaluation is undertaken.
The project was judged to have been partially successful, given that the
cost of the road had risen substantially from that foreseen at appraisal,
while the estimated rate-of-return is considerably lower than the opportunity
cost of capital. This is a preliminary judgement pending the full evaluation.
The Main Findings
- The IRR of the project, recalculated at evaluation is 5.8%, including the
value of time savings, compared with 6% foreseen at appraisal, excluding time
- Traffic levels in 1987 were estimated to be similar to those forecast at
appraisal although comparisons are complicated by the changing locations of
traffic count sites between appraisal and evaluation. Over most of the road's
length traffic is very low, below 100 VPD.
- There have been significant savings in vehicle operating costs, foreseen at
appraisal as the major quantifiable benefit, with costs falling between
- There have been very considerable savings in journey times for light good
vehicles of 63% per kilometre. Return trips by bus between Songea and
Dar es Salaam have been reduced from around six to two days. One of the most
widely perceived benefits is the improved reliability of travel.
- The road was opened to traffic one year later than forecast at appraisal.
Construction costs were 85% higher in real terms, because of the decision to
build the road to a higher standard than initially agreed with the Tanzanian
- The benefits of reduced vehicle operating costs have been passed on to the
local population primarily in the form of increased levels of passenger and
freight services and not lower fares or charges because Government price
fixing means these are still below costs.
- The main socio-economic changes that have taken place since 1979 are the
increasing commercialisation of peasant agriculture, greater integration of
the two districts into the national economy, an increase in personal mobility
and the accelerated growth of Songea, the regional capital of Ruvuma Region.
The road has been a contributing factor to these developments, although it is
not possible to isolate its influence from that of recent general favourable
economic changes in Tanzania.
- The Songea Makambako road has benefited two of Tanzania's poorest regions,
Ruvuma and Iringa Regions which have a higher proportion of low income
households than the national average.
- It is necessary to monitor only a few key variables each year, on traffic
flow and composition and on road maintenance costs, in order to generate data
vital to a subsequent evaluation of the project.
- Traffic counts should be undertaken at similar times of the year at
carefully chosen sites which should not be relocated. Effective appraisal
and evaluation of road projects requires that meaningful comparison can be
made of a series of annual traffic count figures which provide information on
the different types of vehicles. Changing times of the year and location can
make comparisons meaningless.
- Specific studies are needed at the before and after stage if an
evaluation is intended to include the impact of a road project on the local
economy or particular target groups. For ease of analysis and to keep
costs at an acceptable level, such studies should entail minimum levels of
data collection and focus on key variables.
- The benefits of a road project will be reduced where the effect of
government policies is to discourage private sector initiative.