15 April 2014

Tanzania: Hundreds Stranded At Ubungo Terminal

Photo: Emmanuel Gbemudu/IRIN
Floods cut off Dar es Salaam from other parts of the country (file photo).

HUNDREDS of passengers travelling upcountry were still stranded at the Ubungo Bus Terminal in Dar es Salaam yesterday following the weekend downpour that washed away bridges, literary cutting off the country's commercial capital from other parts of the country.

Major bridges connecting the city and the regions crumbled under the pressure of the rains, which also flooded roads and villages.

They include the Ruvu Bridge along the Morogoro- Dar es Salaam Highway, Mpiji Bridge along the Dar es Salaam- Bagamoyo Road as well as Mzinga Bridge that connects Dar es Salaam and the southern regions of Lindi and Mtwara and some parts of Coast region.

The Director-General of Tanzania Meteorological Agency (TMA), Dr Agnes Kijazi, said the rains will continue although not in the same degree of ferocity as those witnessed over the weekend.

"Our earlier caution for heavy rains ends today (yesterday) but we are still working around the clock to examine the situation," the TMA boss said.

According to the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Saidi Meck Sadiki, as of yesterday 13 people were confirmed dead as a result of the floods caused by the rains.

A visit by this newspaper at the terminal witnessed hapless passengers who were unsure of when they would make it to their destinations, as authorities have banned any passenger bus to leave the terminal due to the destruction of infrastructure.

As of Monday afternoon, only passenger buses and small vehicles were allowed to cross the Ruvu Bridge, which was earlier impassable as water had overflown it.

The Officer-Commanding Station (OCS) at the UBT, Inspector of Police Yusuf Kamotta, told journalists that as of 1:00pm on Monday there was no bus, which was allowed to leave the terminal.

"Only buses and small vehicles that were stuck at Ruvu were allowed to pass over the bridge and bring their passengers to Dar es Salaam after they were stranded there for the past few days," Inspector Kamotta explained.

The buses started arriving at the terminal at mid-day yesterday. Some drivers of the buses tried to persuade Inspector Kamotta to allow them carry passengers and continue with the journey but he was adamant.

There were also passengers who wanted assistance from the police to have their fare refunded after they booked buses to travel by unscrupulous touts, only to learn later that there would be no journey after all.

Mr Sadiki was optimistic, however, that transport to upcountry regions would resume in the near future as the Tanzania National Roads Agency (TANROADS) was working to repair damages at the affected bridges.

The Territorial Traffic Police Commander, Mr Mohamed Mpinga, said authorities had decided to stop vehicles from crossing over the Ruvu Bridge after it was deemed unsafe.

He explained further that efforts were underway to fill the affected area with boulders to make it stronger to allow vehicles to cross over the bridge safely.

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