Monday, November 20, 2017

Dar motorists annoyed by towing services method

Towing services in Dar es Salaam have turned into a nuisance to most motorists who have been gnawed by the way the service givers applies to their vehicles. In case a vehicle cannot be safely driven or breaks down following a road accident, individuals and private companies that offer the towing services charge exorbitant fee, sometimes without any proper mechanism of paying tax. “For a tow of up to 600 metres, for instance, you may pay between 200,000/- and 250,000/-, depending on how good you are in price negotiations,’’ says Alphonce Babu, a resident of Ubungo, whose vehicle Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) towed over wrong parking on the road reserve. He says there was no specific cost of towing motor vehicles as the charges depend on one’s price negotiation skills just as buying a cloth from a hawker. Another motorist, Shaban Ahmed whose vehicle was engaged on road carnage at Mabibo in Dar es Salaam and later towed to Urafiki Police Station from the point of breakdown complained over huge towing charges that end up in the hands of people who hardly pay taxes. Investigations have established that many of businesspeople providing towing services were police officers and TANROADS employees. What can be confirmed at least for now is that authorities are unaware of the lucrative business. In separate interviews, several officials were caught napping when asked about the breakdown business. 

Tanzania Revenue Authority's (TRA) Director of Taxpayer Services and Education Richard Kayombo, when asked if he was aware of the unscrupulous towing services, said more clarification be sought from the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) which is mandated to, among others, issue, renew, cancel and amend Road Service Licence. However, SUMATRA Director General Gilliard Ngewe said his authority was less concerned with the towing services, advising that the Head of Police Traffic, Mr Fortunatus Musilimu is the best placed to elaborate on the issue. “That matter falls under the Road Traffic Act and SUMATRA is less concerned, you better contact the head of police traffic,’’ said Mr Ngewe. And, when contacted, Mr Musilimu charged, “That issue is basically regional, not a national matter, you can as well contact the Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander for clarification." Whether owners of vehicles providing towing services are licensed or not, the survey revealed that there were no official contracts between them and the police, TANROADS or Dar es Salaam City Council (DCC) who call them for services in the course of discharging their duties. Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, Lazaro Mambosasa said since he took over as new police commander, he had never known the owners of motor vehicles providing towing services. “What I know is that when a driver is injured or the vehicle is engaged in road accident, we call the breakdown to tow the vehicle from the point of accident to the police station, and the charges ought to be paid by owner of the motor vehicle,’’ he said. The prices, according to him, depend on the distance from the breakdown point to the preferred destination. On the huge prices charged, Mr Mambosasa said he would consult the Zonal Crime Officer and Zonal Traffic Officer to see the best way to resolved the matter.

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