THE number of passengers travelling by bus upcountry for the Christmas and New Year festive season keeps growing, despite efforts made by the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) to ease the transport problem.
Normally, Sumatra issue licences to allow other means of transport apart from the heavy duty passenger busses to carry passengers, as long as they are thoroughly checked by responsible authorities like the Traffic Police.
A survey by the 'Daily News' has established over the years that the highest demand for transport for upcountry passengers occur on Kilimanjaro, Moshi, Arusha and Tanga routes which have been almost impossible to manage.
The demand this festive season, as evidence shows at Ubungo Bus Terminal (UBT), is still high as some travellers were seen waiting for buses from upcountry to transport them to their respective destinations, but the buses apparently were nowhere to be seen.
A spot check by the 'Daily News' has also observed at least 50 to 100 passengers waiting to travel to Dodoma and Moshi by around 12pm on Tuesday.
However, no report of fare hike was communicated so far as three mini-buses were found at the terminal charging passengers heading for Moshi at 32,000/- each as directed by Sumatra. One of the passengers identified as George Makungu said that he was forced to board a mini-bus as booking for normal buses were full although he arrived there at 9.00 am.
This holiday season's travel fares have remained reasonably affordable, according to the clerk identified as Shadrack Simajilo who explained that buses going to Tanga charge up to 20,000/- per person and between 28,000/- and 32,000/- for passengers going to Kilimanjaro.
"The fare will depend on the type of bus you will prefer to board whether luxury, semi- luxury or ordinary," he said.Holiday seasons are outrageous periods when it comes to travel for residents of Dar es Salaam save for the current situation when the UBT is undergoing major rehabilitation ready for rapid transport infrastructure under construction.
However, efforts to reach, Senior Official of Eastern Region for SUMATRA, Conrad Shiyo for comment on the current transport situation proved futile, as he did not answer his phone.