Friday, April 3, 2015

Permits for riding in Dar city centre distresses up-country cyclists

UP-Country motor cyclists have described the recent government’s directives which requires them to have a permit while entering in the Dar es Salaam city centre as an embarrassing move saying that, the process of getting such permits for them is very cumbersome and time taken. In view of this, some motor cyclists have raised a grave concern of what is currently happening to them claiming that as they are not aware of such directives, finds themselves being fined by traffic police unknowingly for allegedly entering the city center without having legal permits. The measure by the government was taken following the increased wave of criminal incidents involving motor bikes popularly known as ‘Bodabodas’ and Bajaj (a tricycle) in other acts of robberies of banks and shops in the city. In addition to that, it was also alleged that some criminals use them to grab wallets, mobile phones, watches and other valuables and swiftly move off unnoticed. Speaking in an exclusive interview  in the city, some motor riders have expressed their disappointment and claimed that they do not have enough time to acquire such documents which takes long processes to get them. Samson Musa a motor cycle mechanic from Singida town said that, he became furious after having been fined with Sh. 30,000/- two weeks ago, this was after he had entered the city centre unknowingly while riding his motor bike. Narrating the incident he said that, it has also taken him long time to apply for the permit from the Dar es Salaam City Council (DCC) as no one knows him there, leave alone bureaucracy he has been facing for the registration process in order to get a permit. Abdalah Salim who drove all the way from Tanga region got himself in the hands of traffic police officers unknowingly while riding his motor bike along Samora Avenue at the city centre a week ago, and had no option to contradict with the law enforcers except to pay the fine. Speaking over the matter, he said that although the government had a good idea but time for advocating the issue to the general public especially motorbike riders from up-country regions seems to be shorter.  He is of the view that, the authorities could pass the information countrywide to regional and district levels for awareness to alert motorbike drivers to avoid such inconveniences in due time. Salim further added that, Bajaj and motorbikes are the quickest means of transport so banning them is like punishing people to suffer with traffic jam.  Muhidini Selemani a resident of Vingunguti commented that he is glad to hear that bodaboda and Bajaj are out of the city because they cause havoc due to their increased registration. “The bodaboda drivers are always riding at a very high speed and worse enough they do not observe and respect the rules and regulation governing all road users,” he said.

However, efforts by this paper to get the DCC’s Public Relations Officer Gaston Makwembe for clarification over the permits proved futile. However, his close aid in the office Beata Singano, said that, upcountry motor riders have to get their permits as usual in accordance to the legal procedures outlined by city bylaws. However, she noted that, every applicant for the permit has to pick a form no matter from where he comes from and fill it then accompany with the relevant documents required such as driver’s licenses and a letter of a local government leader or a village leader for proof. However, she declined the saying that such city bylaws restrict Bodaboda drivers traveling to upcountry regions from Dar es Salaam city. “The DCC bylaws are for Dar es Salaam alone” she said. However, she noted that, the DCC in collaboration with the traffic police has intensified security at the city centre looking for motor riders who do not have legal permits as directed by the government and apprehend them. Dar es Salaam Police Special Zone Commissioner Police Suleiman Kova was recently quoted as saying that, most of the Bajaj and bodaboda drivers are doing their jobs without adhering to the rules governing roads for the safety of the road users. He some of them do not even possess the driving licenses and use these motorcycles in stealing people’s properties particularly women on the streets, he said. “This operation will be progressive until when the government will be satisfied beyond doubt that these drivers have come into line in considering the safety of all road users and respecting the rules and conditions governing roads,” he concluded. Statistics from the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) shows that, there was a total of 10,036 registered bodabodas in the country, as of May 2013. In Dar es Salaam alone, there were at least 4,432 of them. Despite being a solution to traffic congestion, bodabodas have some challenges. Safety and security are not guaranteed. Statistics obtained from annual traffic report of 2014, indicate that, at least 8,241 road accidents occurred in 2013 involved bodabodas, and of those, 6,831 caused 1,058 deaths and injured 6,578 other people. At least 870 bodaboda riders died in 2013. Bodaboda accidents contributed to 18.5 percent of the total number of motor accidents in the year. The Director of Taxpayers Services and Education, Richard Kayombo, was recently quoted by the media as saying that,  the new exercise is among TRA’s spirited attempts to set up proper systems for the management of motorcycles and their number plates by differentiating them from those of motor vehicles. He cited the example of Kenya which had introduced a similar system and noted that, the strategy also aims to curb motorcycle-related crimes in the country. Kayombo appealed to owners of motor cycles to voluntarily register them with new numbers which start with MC 101 AAA. Motorcycles used for business will have white number plates while those for general use will have yellow number plates.

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