Tanga: Transport in the Tanga City was put in a limbo when drivers and staff of buses operating in the city stopped delivering services in protest of actions they termed 'bullying tactics' by traffic police.
The stand-off by the dalaldala drivers that resulted into police action to disperse the daladala operators using tear bombs left the city commuters in an awkward situation which left many workers, including Tanga-based journalists, resorting to motorbike or bicycle transport.
No one has been reported to be injured in the fracass after tear bombs were throw on the striking daladala operators to disperse them.
Drivers have cited some of the traffic police actions they were protesting against as including being charged fines they claimed as not commensurate with the traffic offenses they have committed, paying fines without being given respective receipts and abolishing some of the city bus stands.
The strike began at around 1.00 am in the morning, the prime time in the city transport system where workers, students, business men and women are rushing to their places of work.
For instance, for the Nguvumali route only one Daladala bus was in operation and the driver and his conductor spent the whole way urging passengers who seemed perplexed not knowing what was happening to board his bus because there no other buses operating because of the strike.
"they do not what is happening because they think I am just encouraging them to board my bus," he said.
The city busses assembled at Tangamano grounds but mixed to Mabawa commercial area the nearest are to the Traffic Police headquarters ostensibly to ensure that their grievances are heard by bthe respective police authorities.
However, according to eye witnesses, what happened was contrary to their expectations and Police reacted by ordering the aggrieved daladala drivers and staff to vacate the place immediately followed immediately by unleashing tear gas bombs to disperse the strikers.
According to the striking 'daladala' drivers they have also taken action because some of they have taken action also because some of their fellow drivers have been remanded due to the traffic offenses they were complaining about. There, however, no confirmation over that information.
One driver Waziri Bakari who volunteered to talk to pressmen and women, said that they have been forced to take such drastic action to protest what they called as 'a series of unjust fines' unleashed on them on offenses they termed as not deserving such fines..
He mentioned other problems as shifting of city bus stands which caused a lot of inconveniences to passengers.
He said that his daladala operates between Mikanjuni to Raskazone but pointed out that abolishment of some of the daladala bus points that have been done without their active participation has caused a lot of inconveniences to their passengers.
"City commuters are not aware of the changes and they are blaming us for not stopping at those abolished bus stands," Bakari said.
Another driver, Mustafa Ismail, who works in Daladala plying Donge said they were also against being charged fines without being given EFD receipts. He claimed that it was surprising that one may be arraigned foe an offense charged at a fine of sh. 30,000 but you fnd yourself being forced to pay a fine of Sh. 90,000 when you reach at the Traffic police station.
Ismail said that they were not against being charged fines when they commit offences but they were demanding that police issue a known official procedure which would enable them to operate with minimum problems.
When contacted by phone to comment on the situation, The Regional Police Commander was not available for comment but an assistant picked the phone saying the RPC was in Muheza for official duties.
The Traffic Police Officer Commanding Station (OCS), Abel Nyaleja worked overtime to convince the striking daladala operators to stop their strike to no vail. The daladala operators maintained their position demanding stakeholder meetings to air their grievances.
Nyeleja asked Tanga daladala users to bear with the situation which he said may not normalize and asked the Press to wait for the RPC who os the proper spokesman who can comment on the situation.
Bus commuters have been left in anxiety over their fate but Bodaboda operator, who identified himself as Simon only said although the situation is bad for commuters, it is certainly a bumper harvest time for them. "When the cat leaves, the mouse takes over," said Simon, who however, expressed support to Daladala bus operators saying they were also facing the same fate as the striking daladala operators.