AS hundreds of passengers travelling upcountry for seasonal holidays remained stranded yesterday, the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) seized and fined 13 buses following an operation to control fare hikes and traffic regulations violations.
Sumatra inspector Masumbuko Masuko told the 'Daily News' in Dar es Salaam that the buses have been charged 250,000/- as fine.
He added that the operation, which started on Saturday, has been carried out jointly with the traffic police.
"Many buses have been fined for fare hikes and lacking seat belts as required by the traffic regulations," he said. Mr Masuko named the buses as Shambalai, Saibaba, Mbaazi, Meridian and different minibuses which were granted temporary licences to transport passengers between Dar es Salaam and nearby regions including Tanga and Morogoro.
The 'Daily News' yesterday witnessed a good number of city commuter buses at Ubungo Bus Terminal including those registered for Ubungo-Gongolamboto and Buguruni-Chanika routes taking passengers to Tanga and Morogoro regions.
Mr Masuko said the operation was hampered by a lack of cooperation from passengers largely those travelling to Arusha and Moshi. He pointed out that the passengers were reluctant to disclose the amount of money (bus fare) they were charged for fear of missing their trips.
"Passengers travelling to Mbeya and Iringa have provided us with great cooperation while carrying out the operation because they were open," he said. A survey conducted by this paper on Sunday found out that passengers were forced to pay as much as 50,000/- for a single ticket to Moshi in Kilimanjaro Region, which is more than twice the normal fare.
According to Mr Masuko, the bus fare for Moshi is supposed to be pegged at 17,000/- for business class, 26,000/- for mini luxury and 32,000/- for luxury. Commenting on the bus fare, Sumatra Public Relations Manager, Mr David Mziray, blamed passengers for conspiring with bus operators who were overcharging them.
"What is happening is disappointing, because passengers are blaming Sumatra for failure to control bus operators yet they have been conspiring with operators to pay more," he stated.