STAKEHOLDERS have rejected an application by an owner of commuter buses in Dar es Salaam, Cordial Transport Services, to raise fare by 150 per cent.
In a public hearing convened by the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA), the company which owns only four commuter buses out of over 6,000 operating in the City applied to hike fare from 300/- at present to 750/-.
The firm's Managing Director, Mr Sabri Mabruki, said the proposal was due to increased costs of operation his company has been incurring as a result of several factors including ever rising fuel prices.
He said for more than five years it has been hard and expensive to run commuter services due to unbearable costs like salaries, fuel, maintenance, charging students half fares and giving soldiers a free ride.
"We have been facing many problems in our operations yet we have been denied any subsidy from the government," he said. Several stakeholders said the application was devoid of merit because Mr Mabruki failed to submit audited accounts reflecting losses to justify a hike in fare.
Executive Secretary of the SUMATRA Consumer Consultative Council (CCC) Mr Oscar Kikoyo said it was unprofessional for the company to fail to present financial reports of audited accounts before filing the application.
According to him, it was the company's task to defend its application with clear evidence that it operates in losses as well as submitting its business plans to show how it was operating including its future plans.
He added that many commuter buses in the city were providing substandard services to passengers and in some cases conductors insult passengers, wear dirty and stinking uniforms, divert routes and charge illegal fare.
The CCC, he said, had conducted research in which 50 per cent of the respondents complained that they were charged illegal fare well above the official amount. Mr Hassan Mchanjama wondered how commuter operators claim to suffer losses while they dish out a lot of money to touts who were stubborn to passengers.
SUMATRA's Acting Director General Mr Ahmad Kilima cautioned that bus operators should start to operate professionally. He said within one month the Authority would be in the position to decide on the way forward following the fare hike application after it has gathered more views.
"We will also carefully scrutinise figures and reasons they have brought to justify the fare hike application and decide accordingly," he said. Last year the SUMATRA Board called upon the operators to abide by conditions of road licences including making sure bus crew wear neat uniforms and tags showing the registration number of their buses.