- Published on Thursday, 21 June 2012 04:40
- Written by Correspondent JUDICATE SHOO
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TWO years ago, President Jakaya Kikwete promised that the government was planning to construct several fly-overs over the critical crossroads, to solve the ever increasing road blockage in Dar es Salaam.
The Minister for Transport, Dr Harrison Mwakyembe, uttered a promising statement at a political rally staged by members of Chama Cha Mapinduzi at Jangwani grounds in the city, saying the long debated demand for railway service line from Ubungo to downtown will be operative soon for commuter services. Dar es Salaam commuters on ‘Daladala’ have been subjected to constant sufferings for ages.
And now many people, more than ever before, are forced to source alternative possible means to their respective destinations in avoidance of hustles and hubbubs, partly unleashed by the service providers and the crews of the notorious implements. If the public commuter services were all that rosy, for certain, every smartly dressed office bearers would love to park their cars at home to commute.
But alas who on earth with right minds in Dar es Salaam, would stand the notoriety of the ‘Daladala’ nature. Nobody will not count out, the extensive dwindling of affairs on the ‘Daladala’ operatives as being the lack of constant checking of daily irregularities, the dilemma that has warranted the going to be on astray basis. But now that the Surface and Marine Transport Regularity Authority (SUMATRA) can put on her biting teeth given the direction that has been shown by the responsible Minister, and of course will not leave SUMATRA in bare hands without support.
To make any viable change, the public will expect the SUMATRA big-wigs to leave their respective offices – like their Minister – and confront some of the imaging problems head-on, while curbing the year-in-year out problems left by successive Administrations of the Ruling Party for almost 40 years.
For the time being, all that is expected from SUMATRA today is to oversee closely – even on temporary terms, lest it goes against its charter – the ‘Daladala’ operations as they have been there for more than 20 years today without responsible authority competent enough to curb the existing inhumanly deeds unleashed on the innocent commuters at their own risks and costs.
Given the seriousness of the ‘Daladala’ dilemma, this should be a beginning point for SUMATRA, as the Ministry’s hand in peddling on the spot, the down-to earth entrenched predicaments on all other transportation networks’ countrywide. With SUMATRA’s firm foot on the ‘Daladala’ affairs as desired, the commuters on Dar es Salaam roads will stand to be judged.
First do away with the predominant minibuses, and replace them with conventional buses, the rightful demand for urban commuter services. The predominant minibuses wrongly and unlawfully deployed on the roads as commuter buses purposeful for money minting, should now be placed on their rightful ways, either hire or short distance country luxury bus services as their bodies are built to suit the kind of operations. They are limited to the maximum of 32 sitting passengers.
According to the dimensions of their body building, no provision for standing passengers, but those plying urban roads, standing passengers is a must and commuters are so squeezed like a bunch of sardines in a basket in that the number of standing passengers are equal or almost more than the standing ones!! With the conventional buses, no hustles as the bus bodies are built to allow space for more standing passengers than the sitting ones, in line with the international standards for urban commuter services.
The Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) in 1998 issued compulsory bus body building standards for all buses plying the roads in Tanzania, although not yet enforced to date. But most commuters will gasp a sigh of relieve if the conventional buses’ demand is enforced as they were the common service providers during the Dar es Salaam Motor Transport Company (DMT) era before nationalisation early in the 1970s to give way to the publicly owned Usafiri Dar es Salaam (UDA) hitherto operating intermittently with ‘Daladala’ commuter buses.
The defunct DMT, a joint venture with the Dar es Salaam City Council, with minority shares and the Overseas Transport Company (OTC) with majority shares, also charged with the role of administering the venture. But poor performance forced the government to relinquish the monopolistic status cherished by UDA in 1983, ushering in privately owned commuter buses nicknamed ‘Daladala’ and participated in providing the service under the auspices of the former.
But since then, the services of UDA continued to deteriorate while the number of ‘Daladala’ operators gradually increased with slight improvement as compared to that which forced UDA to stagnate and almost coming to a standstill late in 1990s, while ‘Daladala’ continued offering clumsy services no wonder due to short of strong administrative technics. And the commuters are to date still being haunted by this shortcoming.
And the kind of suffering unleashed to the ‘Daladala’ commuters are including erratic services, the use of dilapidated buses with clumsily built seatsonboard, the use of abusive language by shabby dressed conductors, delayed frequency caused by commandeering touts on bus-stops ostensibly craving loot from the bus conductors. But pupils and students have been the most hit lots in the ‘Daladala’ syndrome saga as they have been the last passengers on board anywhere, and mostly depending on their numbers already on board least them be more than five; hitherto no more room for any other students.
Historically judging from the smooth and efficiency with which the commuter services performed before nationalization in the 1970s, you will sympathize with how commuters have been enduring unknown hardships in the hands of the kinfolks — the individual owners of the ‘Daladala’ buses. Unlike in the 1950s when the popular DMT started operations up-to 1970s when it was nationalized, Dar commuters fully enjoyed the value of their money in terms of fares on boarding this commuter services with exemplary performance nearing a three-minute turn-around frequency, i.e. wherever a passenger stood, he/she will catch up a bus to and from any destinations in every three minutes.
The DMT commuters, unlike the case today, were school children inclusive and their fares were equivalent to a percentage of an adult fare. Nowadays, schoolage children’s fare is almost equivalent to 50 per cent of an adult fare. This service was under one-roof stern leadership and adhering to all requirements needed to meet international standards of commuter services. These buses had a minimum carrying capacity of 300 commuters’ majority of them standing.
Some of the buses were double deckers that are up-to now popular in London Streets, in the United Kingdom, operating in the name of this capital City - London buses. All bus stops seen on various streets and roads today in Dar es Salaam were built and fully managed by the DMT operatives. Comparatively looking between ‘Daladala’ and the DMT commuter services, you will discover lots of things to borrow from the latter in order to overcome the on-going endless lamentations from the commuters, school children in particular.
The public owned UDA and hitherto the immediate successors of DMT, failed to borrow anything meaningful and left, the going is in doldrums at the mercy of ‘Daladala’ operatives. However, if the entire public Administrative machinery has been performing as is the case with Dr Mwakyembe, all these kinds of fallacies – like the UDA and ‘daladala’ now experienced in all spheres of the nation would have been tamed once and for all.
Since Dr Mwakyembe has blown up the wake-up whistle, trying to deal with some of the endemic madudus in his own Ministry, let’s give him time and see if he will have the guts to deal with a savage blow to the ‘Daladala’ commuters’ plight exacerbated by the greedy business monsters with interests deeply entrenched in racketeering syndrome, failure can lead to tarnishing his image.