Saturday, February 26, 2011

How touts disturbs passengers at Ubungo Up-country bus terminal

AS the issue of the removal of touts from the main Ubungo bound upcountry bus terminal is raging on, stakeholders of transport industry have asked the government to take drastic measures which would forcefully remove them from the terminal. Their presence at the terminal has created a negative impact to many passengers, and neither the government nor the Tanzania Bus Owners Association (TABOA) has found a permanent solution. However, critics from the transport industry have blamed the government for their failure to remove them ever since, though it (government) seems to have turned a blind eye for taking no action against them. “Touts causes disturbances at the terminal, and their scramble for passengers in most cases leads to the loss of their luggage”, says Thomas Kibuyi a business man from Mwanza who for the first time had been confronted by touts at the terminal on his way back to Mwanza last year. Narrating a sad story, he says that, on the fateful day, he had planned for an abrupt journey and woke up very early in the morning aboard a daladala bus from his home Temeke which was destined at Ubungo. Upon reaching a place at 05:15 that morning when it was still dark, he disembarked and immediately was surrounded by more than four people each one touting for the destination they could imagine he was going. At first, he seemed unconcerned with their sympathizing offer as he was hurriedly walking towards the terminal to book for a bus ticket whichever he could get going to Mwanza.

Since he didn’t have a ticket, he bargained by one of them who pretended to be working as a booking clerk with a famous Zuberi Bus which is mostly liked by passengers, and which he had desired to travel with and agreed to make a fair discount for him. As they were moving towards the main gate, another tout emerged from the other direction and told him the bus was full. He became surprised without knowing it was a kind of trick inspired to let him accept to board another bus. After accepting the offer, he came to realize that, he was deceived when he had boarded the bus and paid a higher fare rate of about Tshs. 45,000/- instead of 32,000/- for a two by three seater, the fare that’s normally charged by a famous Zuberi bus. Such tricks are commonly practiced by quite a substantial number of touts at the bus terminal. And without the awareness of passengers, most of them are conned and sometimes robbed of their money. Investigations shows that, this is due to the fact that most of them do not bother to report at the booking offices directly to face the transport agents to enquire legal information, and instead are easily lured by touts who are after money. In view of this, they are hurriedly lured and become more easily convinced by touts to accept any bus they could be told was ready, the bus that they specifically know was not of their choice. Investigations by this paper can reveal that, touts are normally promised by transport agents for the payment of Tshs. 2,000/- per each passenger they manage to convince their mind into accepting to board their buses. So in order for touts to assure their successful secret planned mission, they have to use quire tricks to tell passengers that the bus they need was already full, and some of them could even go as far as showing the wrong passenger sheet papers which they walk along with them into making their treachery possible.

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