- Published on Saturday, 23 June 2012 02:29
- Written by LAWI JOEL
- Hits: 1827
I HAVE travelled the route between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, a distance of about 200 kilometres, for over a decade. In that time, as I have said before, I have noticed much improvement that has taken place on that road, which indeed, is the biggest leading out of and into the country’s commercial capital of Dar es Salaam.
Obviously, the huge size of its traffic and the gruesome accidents that have taken place on the highway must have been why the new security features were made on it. I have also travelled the Dar’s route running north to Arusha and out into Kenya. But on this other highway, the features obtaining on the Dar-Moro Highway, like an extra lane for overtaking on a hill, are missing. Highly notable on the Dar-Moro Highway is the abundance of buses belonging to three companies.
There is ABOOD, apparently the leader. HOOD also flexes its transport muscles there. ISLAM too is a power to reckon with on that road. But a new contender has arrived. The older players on that route may ignore this new company, which notably, is also using a completely new breed of buses - YUTONG. But given the reputation it is creating, its rivals surely have a stiff fight coming.
I had never heard of B.M. So as I sat on an ABOOD bus, travelling to Morogoro, rankling with what had just happened to me, the mention of the name shocked me. It may irritate other people, but I am a stickler to rules of travel. One that I follow closely is what my ticket says and getting the ticket in the first place. No doubt bus operators issue tickets not only to enable them know exactly their revenue from a trip, but also to peacefully seat their passengers.
Put otherwise, they issue tickets to avert any potential fights over seats between their passengers. ABOOD BUS COMPANY, one of the few in the country, which still issue tickets with seat numbers written on them, has always followed that practice closely, almost faithfully. On this particular trip, I found that it was different or created the confusion to ignore the rule. The ticket I had bought said I was to take seat number 23.
ABOOD buses are scheduled to depart almost hourly. As I walked to the bus, a worker of the company intercepted me and told me that the bus that was just about to leave ahead of mine had a vacant seat. Like other people travelling, I hope, I choose my seat deliberately and always go for one towards the front but between the axles. That I do for a reason, one mechanic told me. It is the most comfortable position on the bus.
My number 23 seat promised me that comfort on the long trip to the town many residents there refer to as a city-minus-ocean. Travelling by any ABOOD bus gives me no worry. The vehicles are clean and the seats are good. The whole bus is just posh. Inside is a TV set to shorten the long trip with entertaining pictures. But one thing I had to be sure of. I must get a seat between the axles and I was keen on that.
“Please do not take me to the back of the bus,” I told the man, who apparently was one of the company’s ticket providers. “No, I’ll give you a good one in the middle,” he told me. That bus I was diverted to was already moving. The man called to the driver to slow down for me to board it. He did and I clambered aboard. I looked on the right side of the aisle for a seat at the middle that was vacant.
None! I look on the left. None! I looked back to see if the man was there. He was gone. Damn it! A passenger on the backmost seat of the bus called to me. “There is still room for one person over here,” he said. I might as well take that one for, after all, it was 30 minutes after one and I wanted to reach my destination early while it was light enough. But that worker, employee of a reputable bus company, had tricked me.
I would never forget that. Discomfort of travelling on a bus may be lessened by an interesting discussion with a seat mate or an entertaining picture on TV. The bus owner may themselves have devised or built in some means of comfort like, these days, a
TV to entertain passengers with entertaining shows. ABOOD was one of the companies, which installed a long time ago television sets on board.
The backmost seat on a bus for over sixty passengers cannot be comfortable no matter how smooth the road may be. You get an unnerving feel when it changes direction. I hoped the TV set placed up at the front was working and I would not be aware of the scary movement of back of the bus. I was, however, unlucky that day. The TV was as dead as a dodo! I fumed more. My seatmate was a lady who lived in Dar, but had just recently bought a plot of land in Morogoro.
She told me how she had beaten tricksters who had wanted to swindle her of her money during her search for a plot to buy. Was this the game Morogoro bus operators played even on their prospective passengers? I asked myself. Not ABOOD. I told the lady what had happened. “Next time you try BM,” she said. BM was a new bus company. That was what I did on my return trip to Dar. I travelled by BM on a YUTONG make.
And I saw the difference. They had a TV that entertained us all the way. In fact, I thought I arrived in Dar too soon. I gave the bus only 75 marks because one side of the aisle had two seats and the other three. Not so comfortable! It departed later than they had said they would. And there ABOOD still beats them. Keeping time. But there was no doubt YUTONG and ABOOD had better watch out.