AS part of preparations for the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART) System, the city's commuter buses using Morogoro road or whose routes cut across the road are currently in a 22-day registration process at Dar es Salaam Rapid Bus Transit (DART) Agency.
Our Correspondent looks at the importance of the exercise that began on 31st last month toward the success of the project expected to commence at the end of this year...
We are witnessing yet another positive development toward realization of the much awaited Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART) System.
In a process that takes 22 days from March 31, commuter bus owners who use or whose routes cross Morogoro road are supposed to register their vehicles at Dar es Salaam Rapid Bus Transit (DART) Agency.
This is a positive move because the registration is part of the preparations for DART system which is expected to start at the end of this year. It should be remembered that the agency is now searching for service providers to support the new system.
On-going works of the project envisions reducing traffic jams and congestion in Dar es Salaam. The project includes construction of 20.9 kilometres special trunk road from Kimara terminal to Kivukoni area, Msimbazi road from Fire to Kariakoo-Gerezani area and a part of Kawawa Road from Magomeni to Morocco junction.
Commenting on the ongoing registration, the agency's engineer, Mr John Shauri, says that the agency wants to make sure that commuter bus owners understand the project and become part of the new system.
According to the engineer, a total of 64 direct routes will no longer be in use after the commencement of the project. Some of those routes include Mbagala Rangi 3 to Masaki, Vingunguti to Makumbusho, Kunduchi to Mwenge, and Msata to Ubungo.
Other routes are Kariakoo to Makumbusho, Buguruni to Kawe, Kivukoni to Mburahati, Mbagala kuu to Mwenge, and Mkata to Ubungo.
Others are Mburahati to Muhimbili, Segerea to Mwenge, Vingunguti to Kawe, Vingunguti to Mbezi, Kunduchi to Posta, and Kunduchi to Makumbusho.
He also mentions Temeke to Masaki, Kivukoni to Mabibo, Muhimbili to Mabibo, Posta to Ubungo, Posta to Mabibo, Kawe to Kimara, Kivukoni to Mbezi, Mwenge to Mbezi, Posta to Mbezi, Mbezi to Tegeta and Bunju to Makumbusho. Commuter owners should go to the agency's offices for registration with SUMATRA certificates, photocopies of vehicle registration and photocopies of their drivers' licences.
The registration takes place from Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. On Saturday and Sunday it takes place from 9am to 2: 30 pm.
Talking in Dar es Salaam recently, a consultant for the agency, Mr Felix Mlaki, said the registration process is progressing well and urged commuter bus owners to continue coming out in huge numbers so as to complete the exercise within the set deadline.
"The trend is encouraging, we call on those who have not registered to do so and make this project a success," he said, adding that the registration is free of charge.
He noted that advice from commuter bus owners is also very crucial in ensuring that the agency improves the project, and noted that operators are supposed to register with the agency because SUMATRA will not register buses plying routes used by the new system.
"We advise them to register at DART and give out their views on the first phase of the project," he said, adding that the project will have many benefits to people. Making DART project a success should be in the interest of every Dar es Salaam resident and Tanzania at large.
Recently, the agency signed a contract for advisory services for the procurement of bus operators, fare collectors and fund managers for the operations of the DART system.
The contract was signed between a Netherland's based company, Rebel Group, that won the contract valued at 1,328,415 US dollars and was represented by the company's Financial Advisor, Mr Guillaume Remy and DART Agency was represented by the Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mrs Asteria Mlambo.
DART project is one of the largest public-private partnership (PPP) projects with expected private sector investments of about 180 million US dollars while the public sector is going to invest about 250 million US dollars into this partnership.
Experts say traffic jams in Dar es Salaam are reportedly costing the Tanzanian economy 4bn/- (2.5 million US dollars) every day. According to recent studies by the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI), traffic jams are eating into more than 20 per cent of annual profits of most businesses.
The daily 4bn/- loss aside, workers spend hours on their way to workplaces and environmental pollution causes diseases such as cancer which costs huge sums of money to treat.
With an annual loss of 1.4tri/-, the amount of the money lost in traffic jams also far exceeds the budget allocated to many government ministries. Obviously, the current state of affairs where Dar es Salaam has more than 6,000 commuter buses that carry only 43 per cent of the city dwellers is not sustainable for development to take place.
It is always difficult for human beings to adapt to changes, but in this case changes are imperative.
Changes in transportation are necessary in a city with more than 120,000 private vehicles that carry only six per cent of residents with 480,000 of their seats lacking passengers and where fifty-one per cent of residents walk to their various destinations.
Although there are many things to be done, progress made so far by DART Agency is commendable.