Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Public transport: Level seat challenging but possible

THE nature of public transport system in the country is very pathetic to say the least. It is characterized by rough roads and dilapidated passenger vehicles. Careless drivers and congestion in the vehicles. Looking at the nature of the commuter buses in Dar es Salaam, leave alone other towns in the country, one would wonder if it is easy for Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) to take abut level seat. Many of our buses nowadays are made in such away that there are very few seats on the edges leaving a lot of space for passengers to stand. Standing in commuter vehicles has become the norm in the city of Dar es Salaam with the number of those standing surpassing that of those seated. For instance, a mini-bus Hiace type that carries between 14 and 18 passengers in some countries take made takes up to 30 here in Tanzania. This ill trend has been allowed to develop riots since neither the traffic police nor SUMATRA has taken firm decisive steps to stem it out. As a result, we continue witnessing the increasing level of disorders in the sector, with the bus touts striving to squeeze in those vehicles as many people as they can manage. Ironically the passengers themselves don’t seem to mind the inconveniences.

Whenever there is a problem on commuter bus transport as in the case above, women are the most sufferers as you can see some of them with their babies on their back pondering over what to do. This was on 17th February when people were taking to their fleet to seek for refuge from Gongo La Mboto suburb following rumours that other bombs were to be exploded by the militiamen at KJ511. It was very hectic as everyone was trying to save up their lives from a threat that bore nothing.

have become so accustomed to this mistreatment until they consider it the norm. If you get irritated that someone has stepped on you in such an overcrowded bus, you will only maker it worse if you attempt to castigate the person who has done it. Otherwise you will be subjected to scorn to the effect that if you didn’t want to be stepped on, you could have just hired a taxi or bought your own car. For those who are used to this hard side reality, they know white clothes especially in the rainy season is a no go zone, otherwise you will honour yourself, what with mud and all the crease your clothes will get? But who really cares? After all public transport seems to be meant for people of low income ability. Meanwhile: The Dar es Salaam Commuter Bus Association (DARCOBOA) is pushing for an increase in fares despite of the recent fare increase saying that it is too little to run the operational costs. And as if awakened from a deep slumber, SUMATRA has now promised to ensure that level seat for commuter buses is taken strictly or else commuter bus owners should go to Tanzania Revenue Authority to change their licenses to be allowed to ferry standing passengers. But this is what they have been doing, SUMATRA in essence is admitting that they have been compromising some of these important laws causing untold suffering to commuters. But even as they make SUMATRA awakes to ensure sobriety in this sector, they must appreciate the hard reality that the number of buses verses the number of passengers in the city might not go well with level seat.

Following shortage of commuter buses around, people were seen clinging at the back of the commuter bus precariously and in oblivious to the danger posed to their lives.

Despite of The Dar es Salaam city is currently having a population of nearly five million people, and is served by a pantry number of about 7,000 buses. Thus for level seat initiative to hold water and effectively serve all commuters buses with bigger capacity have to be brought in. Otherwise trying to implement the directive without making such arrangement will only cause huge delays for people who travels to and from towns. I am not saying that, it is impossible to have level; seat but there is a lot that needs to be done not only top increase the number of buses, but also to train the commuters to avoid breaking the law by boarding an already full vehicle. Creating order and discipline in the transport sector is much welcome. indeed it is long overdue. That is why there should be intense collaboration between traffic police and all institutions mandated with the responsibility of supervising the sector.

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