THE Mwakanga-Dar train breakdown midway at Fundi Umeme stop-over recently marred the otherwise impressive Tanzania Zambia Railways Authority (TAZARA) Dar es Salaam commuter train services.
It was the ingenuity and courtesy of TAZARA workers that prevented a clash with commuters returning home later in the evening. The aggrieved commuters had vowed to get their money-worth return ride because the train, after failing to complete the trip into its last terminus of Dar, had subjected them to a costly trek of two kilometers.
Most of them unused to a long, brisk walk, some obese with good living, had taken the morning march painfully, their huge build jiggling as they went. All the way they cursed. "This is inefficiency," one said.
"We shall not pay fare in the evening on our return journey," the 'Daily News' heard another one saying. This paper heard a Tazara tickets attendant who had been on the ill-fated train telling the Tazara Station Master, Mr Walivyo Maneno to get police officers ready at the station's gate in the evening to prevent a possible scuffle.
Mr Maneno who confirmed the breakdown answered and said that would not be necessary for a peaceful way would be found to settle the matter. He told 'Daily News' that the locomotive had experienced a technical problem.
Angry passengers, most of them workers aiming to be punctual into their offices, disembarked from the train, cursing at what they called shoddy operation by the organisation.
Tazara commuter train with four daily trips on Tuesday began the city shuttle service in 2012 with seven coaches. Today it has ten and will increase the coaches as need be.
"We had 14 coaches for the commuter train if the Kurasini route was included, but the route was uneconomical," Commuter Superintendent, Ali Iddi told 'Daily News' at Tazara station in Dar es Salaam on Monday.
The ill-fated train had left Mwakanga at 7.40 rode well and on time most of the journey. However, at the Fundi Umeme stop, one station before it reached its Dar es Salaam terminus, the ten-coach commuter up-town train failed to take off, an incident that left passenger angry and confused. The time was 8.10. Most of them had their prospective connection with the Ubungo downtown commuter train disrupted. "At first we thought there was an accident," said one passenger.
"But we later learned that they had run out of diesel because one of them called their boss in Dar es Salaam said so." In clarification, Iddi said that: "What had happened was that the locomotive had just shut down."
He said Tazara had only two engines, one standing-by and they were about to send the stand-by engine from Yombo to push the dead train into the station when passenger got disgusted and left the train.
Tazara has four commuter trains daily, two in the morning and two in the evening. The evening trip starts at 0.6 in Dar and arrives in Mwakanga at 06.55. It leaves Mwakanga at 07.05 back to Dar es Salaam where it reaches at 07.55. The second and last trip of the day leaves Dar es Salaam at 08.10, arriving in Mwakanga at 09.00.
On its return to Dar es Salaam, the journey begins at 09.10 and arrives in the city at 10.00. "Our trips from Dar es Salaam at the sea level are known as up trips," said Iddi. 'The opposite ones to the city are down trips."
Mwakanga trains begin journeys at the Dar es Salaam station to Mwakanga. It begins its trip at 04.45 and reaches Mwakanga at 05.15. It leaves Mwakanga at 05.25 and arrives in Dar at 06.20.
The second leaves Dar es Salaam at 06.40 and arrives in Mwakanga at 07.30. It leaves Mwakanga at 07.40 and arrives in Dar es Salaam at 8.30.