14 May 2014

Tanzania: Filth, Disorder Mar Ubungo Bus Terminal

THE fast piling up of filth and disorganisation at the Ubungo Bus Terminal in Dar es Salaam, the country's largest and busiest, is seriously threatening service delivery and travellers' health, a 'Daily News' survey has established.

The demolition of the various structures at the terminal to pave way for the execution of the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit project has reportedly fueled the unhygienic conditions at the terminal that is due for shifting to Mbezi Luis.

Irked by the conditions and the City Hall's 'laxity' in dealing with the issue, the executive committee of the Tanzania Bus Owners Association (TABOA) is set to meet any time this month to issue an ultimatum on either to stop services at the terminal or otherwise.

The planned relocation of the terminal, which began with the demolitions last year, has left it vulnerable to weather conditions.

The ongoing seasonal rains have wreaked much havoc at the facility. The rains, which have left massive ponds of stagnant water, creating several gaping potholes in the process, have also posed a health risk in form of breeding ground for malariacarrying mosquitoes.

'Daily News' also witnessed lack of a proper sewage and drainage system, causing wastewater to flood the area, again -- another health risk. The terminal also lacks suitable and clean toilets, passenger waiting lounge, kiosks and other necessary services for commuters.

The Dar es Salaam City Council has already declared that it would no longer invest in the terminal as the services there "were only temporary."

Terminal users and motorists have complained against the 200/- and 300/- respectively charged to enter the terminal, pointing to lack of such basic facilities such as traveller sheds, decent toilets and other relevant services. "There are a few toilets and they are not even clean.

There aren't good restaurants and the situation is getting worse when it rains as there is nowhere to shield ourselves from the rain," said Mr Ali Shekidele, one of the terminal users, questioning the rationale behind the fee collection.

One of the ticketing agents at the UBT, Mr Egner Kiwango, maintained that the decision that was reached by the city's leadership to start the demolition exercise without setting adequate infrastructure at Mbezi "is upsetting; indicating how authorities are not concerned with the security of the terminal users."

TABOA Secretary General, Enea Mrutu told the 'Daily News' that city authorities have been turning a deaf ear to their claims, which included the need to improve the situation at the upcountry bus stand.

Mr Mrutu said the association also opposed the decision to relocate the terminal to Mbezi, claiming that it would be more chaotic to travellers.

"The government has to improve the current Ubungo terminal instead of transferring it to Mbezi; this is our stand and we have on several occasions advised the city's leadership on this," he stressed.

Reached for comment, the Dar es Salaam City Director, Mr Wilson Kabwe, played down the claims, saying the situation at the terminal was satisfactory. He pointed out that relevant authorities were keen on ensuring that the toilets at the terminal are regularly cleaned and potholes filled in.

"The terminal is just there temporarily; I am sure the infrastructure available meets the demand. It does not make sense to build a permanent infrastructure while knowing that the bus stand will be transferred soon," he said.

He added that the City Council was holding talks with the Tanzania Investment Bank (TIB) to secure funds for the accomplishment of the multibillion project.

According to Mr Kabwe, the new upcountry bus terminal would cost 350 million US dollars. "If we get the money even today, the construction would even start tomorrow. We are only being held back by financial constraints," he said.

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