By Colleta Ndunguru ~ Advisory Services Manager at TIB Development Bank on 01 May 2020Finance


Noun. /ˈmeɪntənəns/

During times of any crises, especially health crises, we are encouraged to reflect on how we maintain our bodies through good nutrition, rest and exercise. With more people having to spend time in their homes and having accepting the dynamics that come with COVID-19, many have started directing their energies to fixing, cleaning and maintaining the essential “things” that keep them and our families safe, secure and comfortable. These items or things range from ensuring the water flows without leakage, the garden grass is trimmed, the car is serviced despite minimal movement, the rood does not leak to name a few.  However, we learn a hard lesson over and over again, that, the cost of maintenance, is high when not done on a regular basis.

The Oxford Learner’s online dictionary defines maintenance as the act of keeping something in good condition by checking or repairing it regularly. That act or habit has an associated cost, or simply put, money is required. Could the lack of money be the source of low maintenance or is it more a matter of low prioritisation of maintenance in our budget allocations the real reason we become complacent on routinely maintaining the assets? What if we got in the habit of routine maintenance?  What if maintenance becomes the norm and not the exception starting the household level? 

We learn that maintenance is an act of doing something positive. Literature on the subject of maintenance shows that assets that are maintained routinely have longevity and can be used for a prolonged period. Roads and bridges are often cited in these examples.   In everyday life however, we too are faced with options to maintain the assets we are in possession of.  What is of concern however is the limited time we spend on planning for maintaining these physical assets.  For example, at a household level, assuming one lives in a house where there is a hedge that serves the purpose of a fence. Being a plant-tree like fence, the hedge needs to be trimmed and well kept. A deliberate plan to routinely maintain the hedge therefore needs to be in place. And when it is not maintained the hedge becomes an obvious eye sore and a breeding ground for unwanted reptiles, creating another social cost.

As one commutes around Dar Es Salaam or other towns in Tanzania, it is visible to see where there is lack of maintenance and where maintenance is conducted on a regular basis. Lack of maintenance initially invokes annoyance then subtly moves to more laxed attitude towards repairing, rehabilitating, rearranging of asset which affects decision making.  When we see this continuously outside our homes, it subconsciously sneaks into our homes hence no longer fussed about a broken window for more than three months for example.

How can we be a community that intentionally pursues maintenance?  Some argue that habits are formed over time with the number of days ranging from 33 days to 66 days. Others say maintenance as a subject should be part of our formal education curriculum. Either way, the principal remains that once there is a deliberated plan to do something, other channels of opportunities will present themselves.  

Perhaps let us start here with a few ideas for considering the maintenance journey at a household level .

  • Itemise the assets that require maintenance within your reach.  Limit the items to 5 assets so you do not feel overwhelmed. Be honest, if the item cannot be maintained, throw it away, or sell it.


  • Estimate how often you need to maintain these assets-for example, do you need to maintain the asset monthly, quarterly or annually? Note that at some point a major maintenance will be required, however if you have been consistent in the minor or routine maintenance, larger/major maintenance will not be overwhelming.   


  • Estimate what will be to cost of maintaining these assets.  This may require you calling to get quotations.


  • List your possible sources of funds for maintaining the assets for example income earned from use of the asset, salary, dividends etc. 


  • Intentionally set aside funds. These funds can be in form of actual cash in a maintenance account or direct payment to the supplier / mechanic or “maintenance man” that is required to delivered the service you need.


  • Keep a record of all costs associated with the maintenance project in a notebook, phone or laptop where it is easily accessible.


  • Set a reminder for the next scheduled maintenance date, ensuring it is not too far off.


Maintenance of assets is key.Let us remember to routinely maintain our assets and not get overwhelmed by its costs. Plan ahead. Work the plan, noting an old proverb that states an elephant is eaten one bite at a time.


By Colleta Ndunguru ~ Advisory Services Manager at TIB Development Bank