Dublin a haven of hope for African planners

 

DUBLIN's citizens may be surprised and pleased to hear that the city fathers are successfully exporting their expertise in local government to far flung parts of Africa.

Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital of Tanzania, is currently revamping its administration on the basis of a model provided by the restructuring of Dublin City and County Councils.

Acting on the advice of an Irish consultancy firm, Devco, the Tanzanian government has decided to divide local administration of the country's biggest city between three autonomous municipal councils and a greater city council.

The team of consultants from Devco which recommended the restructuring included Mr John Fitzgerald, who has since been appointed Dublin city manager.

The chairman of Dar's city commission, Mr Charles Keenja, visited Ireland last November to look at Dublin's experience of decentralisation and how it managed the establishment of the three new local authorities for the greater Dublin area.

Mr Keenja yesterday professed himself profoundly impressed by what he saw. "Dublin is run very well. The councillors do what they have to do and the administrators do their job and neither side interferes with the other."

Not so in Dar, where the government, tired of appealing to the old city councillors to clean up their act, abolished the council last June. Mr Keenja and eight colleagues on the newly formed commission now have one year to sort out the mess.

At grassroots level, the agency Irish Aid is also working with local groups in Dar to improve community infrastructure.

The Minister of State for Overseas Co operation, Ms Joan Burton, yesterday visited one neighbourhood, Kijitonyama, where the residents are planning their own sewerage systems, tarred roads and security patrols.

Local government is not the only similarity between Dublin, and Dar es Salaam. The population of both cities is increasing, both are seaports situated in attractive bays, but there the resemblance stops.

Dar es Salaam (the name means "Haven of Hope") has 2.5 million inhabitants, which is expected to double in little over a decade.

Only 30 per cent have access to running water and the city suffers from enormous infrastructural, problems, flooding during the rainy season and a lack of parks for open spaces. Mr Keenja said he was particularly interested inservice charges for water and refuse collection.

Irish Aid is providing £162,000 to support the decentralisation which is already producing results.

Tax revenues have tripled, services have been privatised, demolition orders enforced, and no "fewer than 3,000 staff have been retrenched".