Monday, June 3, 2013

Commuter bus tickets still have old fares

Many ‘daladala’ buses plying various routes in Dar es Salaam still issue tickets bearing old fare rates instead of new fares starting from 12th April, It has been observed. A recent order by the Surface and Marine Transport Authority (SUMATRA) directed commuter bus operators in the city to issue tickets bearing the correct fare. Passengers needing to preserve their tickets for purposes of handling them at work places have at times had to shout at conductors on the issue, like Celina Aloyce, a lady who works in Masaki. On Tuesday this week she found herself in open verbal conflict when she asked for a valid bus ticket for the fare which she had paid of Sh. 600 for a single long trip from Masaki to Gongo la Mboto and instead she was issued a ticket for Sh. 500 fare. Celina, whose employer refunds her transport fares on a weekly basis, demanded the right ticket but commuter bus had no tickets bearing the current legal fare. Similarly, despite the fare hike, commuter bus operators shortening routes have not stopped, contrary to routine warnings from SUMATRA. SUMATRA requires commuter bus operators to indicate their fares on the side boards of their buses, which however is likely to add to costs, so the new fares are not indicated on the sideboards. A dramatic exchange occurred on Friday this week along Sam Nujoma road when irate passengers most of whom youths aboard a commuter bus with registration number T 788 AJG plying between Mwenge and Mbagala took the driver to a police post at Mwenge. The incident occurred at around 19.30 pm when the driver and a bus conductor announced to their passengers that were destined to Ubungo instead of going straight to Mbagala as for its designated route. On reaching at a police post, the police officer on duty told the irate passengers that they had to open charges on the driver and report to SUMATRA for further action. The driver was also found to be under the influence of alcohol. When the Guardian on Sunday reached the area that night found some passengers who demanded for refund of their fares paid to a conductor who by that time had vanished leaving his driver in the hands of the police for interrogation. The action by irate passengers came about two days after a call by SUMATRA to Dar city commuters not to accept misconduct shown by drivers of commuter buses, including shortening of routes.  Contacted for comment, SUMATRA officer in-charge of eastern zone, Conrad Shio, said a crackdown on commuter buses abusing regulations, including charging higher fares than officially designated fares would be conducted soon. He said already over 100 commuter buses have been apprehended with various types of misconduct and fined Sh. 100,000 for each offence while contracts of drivers and conductors are handed to the police for scrutiny. He has also cautioned owners, drivers and conductors to abide by conditions and regulations governing commuter bus operations. Otherwise stern measures including revocation of licenses would be imposed to culprits, he affirmed.

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