Up until 1970's the economy of the country performed well with both agriculture (3.3% p.a.) and industry growing at moderate rates. Road Maintenance was well managed and resources were adequate. In 1968 for instance, funds were allocated for road maintenance at the rate of US$ 800 per km for bitumen roads. For Engineered gravel and earth roads, the allocations were US$ 400 per km and US$ 230 per km respectively. By early 1980's the gap between public expenditure and aggregate supply widened, the current account deficit was about 15% of GDP, inflation was about 30% and the exchange rate was substantially overvalued.

With these difficulties, the level of public expenditure allocated for maintenance declined such that by 1990, only about 15% trunk and 10% of the rural roads respectively were in good condition. Since 1998 the Tanzanian Road Sector has been undergoing far-reaching reforms whereby the Parliament enacted the Roads Tolls (Amendment) No. 2 Act 1998 that established the Roads Fund and the Roads Fund Board. The Executive Agencies Act, 1997 established an executive agency, the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS), which has the responsibility of managing the Trunk and Regional roads in Mainland Tanzania.

It is considered that the ongoing reforms will help alleviate to a great extent the institutional problems of inadequate funding for road maintenance; cumbersome administrative and procurement procedures; unmotivated staff etc., which in the past led to considerable project delays; cost overruns; extra backlog maintenance works; and loss of confidence from the road users as well as the road sector donors.

The core activity in the roads sector is traditionally engineering, consisting mainly of design, construction of new roads and maintenance. A total of 85,000 kilometres of roads estimated in 1998 to have an asset value of USD 1,399 million have been constructed in mainland Tanzania. While design and construction are dominated by engineering issues, maintenance of this extremely valuable public asset is essentially a management problem. Indeed maintenance of our road network has been and still is a big problem.

Roads, like any piece of real estate, are an asset. Assets must be maintained to avoid greater costs to the economy brought about by the need for eventual reconstruction. Road maintenance is an essential part of any country's transport infrastructure programme and vital to the economy. Poor road maintenance has a negative impact on the economy. The losses to the economy through the roads sector are estimated at Tshs. 603 billion (equivalent to USD 564 million) annually, which is about 6.3% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Losses are through increased Vehicle Operating costs and increased Travel times. Also more money is needed for interventions in the long term for the roads due to poor maintenance.

Tanzania's vision 2025 in respect of road sector envisages a plan to undertake an economic transformation of Tanzania that will enable it to move from the category of least developed countries to a medium income country. In the process the transport sector is expected to have an extensive road network that is well maintained, serving all parts of the country as well as neighbouring countries.

In order to achieve a higher rate of economic growth and reduce current poverty levels, Tanzania needs to develop reliable, effective, efficient, safe and fully integrated roads infrastructure which best meets the needs of travel and transport.