Monday, 10 February 2014

3,000 buses, coaches with Internet for Dar

The over 4 million Dar es Salaam residents still depend on a woefully inadequate public transport system. PHOTO | FILE

Dar es Salaam. The country’s commercial capital, Dar es Salaam, will have 3,000 modern buses that are furnished with an Internet cafĂ©, wireless Internet and a mini-restaurant by the end of this year, The Citizen Website has learnt
Public transport in Dar es Salaam—home to about 4.5 million people and which has been in a shambles for years, is awash with sub-standard buses owned by desparate transporters and operated by mainly irresponsible, reckless drivers and touts.
With demand exceeding supply, using public transport in the city especially during the peak hours, is normally chaotic and sometimes dangerous to commuters.
Currently, there are 9,541 mini-buses, famously known as daladala, licensed to provide public transport, but 20 per cent of these are often grounded due to mechanical faults, according to data obtained by The Citizen.
However, the Dar-es-Salaam Regional Transport Licensing Authority (DRTLA) says the number of privately owned buses is estimated to be between 6,000 and 7,500.
Bus service accounts for about 70 per cent of public transport in Dar es Salaam, according to latest statistics obtained by The Citizen.
At least 40 per cent of these vehicles are substandard, meaning they aren’t fit to carry passengers. This situation, when added to the maddening traffic jams, creates nightmarish scenarios that hapless commuters in the city have to contend with on a daily basis.
But, one man, Mr Simon Robert Kisena, an entrepreneur who have acquired the former State-owned transport firm, UDA, short for “Usafiri Dar es Salaam” (Transport in Dar es Salaam), says he wants to fix the current city public transport woes within the next twelve months.
Yesterday, Mr Kisena whose acquisition of UDA attracted a lot of criticism, especially from those who had vested interests in the firm, launched 200 buses, which will ply Dar’s roads effective today (Monday).
The 200 buses, with the capacity to carry 40 passengers each, are part of the 1,100 PSVs the businessman has purchased in a Sh100 billion-plus deal. He told The Citizen that within the next three months, there would be more than 700 modern buses.
Before the end of the year, Mr Kisena told The Citizen, there would be a fleet of 3,000 buses operating in Dar es Salaam City and its environs.
His plan is to make UDA the leading public transport provider in Dar es Salaam before it expands operations countrywide. “We want to control 50 per cent of the market share…we want to revolutionise the way people travel in Dar.”