16 July 2008

Tanzania: Sumatra Approves Bus Fare Increase

Bus fares will increase by between 20 and 26 per cent from August 1, the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) announced yesterday.

Sumatra director general Mr Israel Sekirasa said the new fares would be charged by all public service vehicles, namely upcountry buses and commuter vehicles operating in urban areas.

The announcement immediately drew criticism from a cross-section of Dar es Salaam dwellers interviewed randomly by The Citizen last evening.

They said the new fares would make their lives even tougher after the cost of living spiralled in recent months due to high prices of food and other essential items.

But Mr Sekirasa said the agency expected the new fares to enable operators improve services and eliminate inconveniences in the transport sector.

"The decision made by the authority was reached after considering many factors including rising of fuel prices and the annual inflation rate which jumped to 9.1 per cent in May this year from 5.9 per cent June last year," he said adding that the new fares were fair to both operators and travellers and commuters.

According to the new rates, commuters travelling short distances in urban areas will now pay Sh300 per trip, up from Sh250.

Fares on middle distance routes will be raised from Sh300 to Sh400 while fates will go up from Sh400 to Sh500 on routes averaging 25km. Sumatra also introduced a new route category covering up to 30km in which commuters will pay Sh600.

Mr Sekirasa said students would pay a uniform fare of Sh100 per trip from August, up from Sh50 charged for the past ten years. He added that students would from next year be charged half of the adult fare.

People travelling in luxury buses between Dar es Salaam and Kigoma, Mwanza, Musoma, Mbeya, Bukoba and Sumbawanga will now pay between Sh62,000 and Sh84,000, up from between Sh50,000 and Sh60,000.

Fare increases between Dar es Salaam and Morogoro, Mtwara, Dodoma, Singida, Songea and Tabora range from between Sh3,000 to Sh15,000.

In Dar es Salaam, Sh300 will be charged on routes from the central business district (CBD) to Temeke, Mikocheni and areas served by Mandela Expressway and Sam Nujoma Road.

Sh300 will also be charged on other routes not exceeding 10km. Commuters will pay Sh350 when travelling between 15 and 20km and Sh500 on routes that are more than 25km long.

Earlier, bus owners representing different associations from different parts of the country asked Sumatra for a 40 per cent fare increase.

Mr Sekirasa said the new fares on the 676km Dar es Salaam-Arusha route will be Sh20, 000 (up from Sh16,900) for ordinary buses, Sh28,000 (Sh23,660) for semi-luxury buses and Sh35,000 for luxury buses.

Fares between Dar es Salaam and Bukoba (1,451km) will be Sh44,000, Sh61 000 and Sh75,000 for ordinary, semi-luxury and luxury buses, respectively.

Passengers travelling between Dar es Salaam and Dodoma (458km) will pay Sh14, 000, Sh19,000 and Sh24,000 for ordinary, semi-luxury and luxury buses.

Fares on the Dar es Salaam-Kigoma route (1,620km) will rise to Sh49, 000, Sh68,000 and Sh84,000.

Fares between Dar es Salaam and Mbeya (882km) have risen to Sh26,000, Sh37,000 and Sh46,000 while travellers on the Dar es Salaam-Musoma route will now pay Sh70,000 and Mwanza Sh62,000.

Sumatra warned that transporters would be required to adhere to strict transport safety, quality and comfort standards to charge the new fares.

Members of the public said Sumatra must move to ensure the operators strictly followed set regulations for their safety and reduce many inconveniences that affect them due to selfishness and profiteering by the operators.

Mr Peter Shayo said Sumatra had failed to stop unscrupulous bus owners.

Mr Shayo called upon employers to increase the salaries for employees so that they suited the current life hardships.

But bus owner Abdulrahman Mangweti commended Sumatra, saying the fares "will reduces losses we have been incurring for many years".

Additional reporting by Evod Kimolo, Seif Mohammed and Yakobo Chiwambo.

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