Tanzania: RC Chalamila Demands Dart Solve Transport Woes

The Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner, Albert Chalamila has demanded the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART) management act fast and provide a solution to the acute shortage of buses that is increasingly leaving city commuters in limbo.

Speaking at a public meeting with Temeke District residents in Mbagala Chamazi in Dar es Salaam, yesterday, he said he was unhappy to see a good number of defective buses grounded for long, while the city dwellers are left jam-packed at the DART stations waiting for otherwise elusive services.

The RC faulted the decision to construct DART headquarters at a watercourse in the Jangwani area, saying the move had left many busses defective as the engines were clogged with mud.

RC Chalamila said that the muddy water that clogged the buses during the rainy season caused significant damage that could otherwise been avoided.

"DART office is built on a watercourse...this means that water has not followed the buses, but the busses have followed the water," RC Chalamila said.

According to the DART website, the agency has encountered many kinds of losses due to floods at Jangwani including delayed bus services. Due to the damages caused by floods on the buses, passengers have been facing delays at the stations which in turn affected operations.

Bus operations have also been affected due to damage to the DART infrastructure. DART has suffered the cost of repairing buses, and cleaning ditches and roads during floods.

Responding to citizens' questions about constructing a depot in Jangwani area whilst knowing the area is prone to flooding, DART wrote that the actual decision to construct a depot at Jangwani was concluded after the environmental impact assessment was done, and the area was recommended as suitable for constructing the current depot.

However, DART wrote that environmental pollution due to human activities at the upper side of the Msimbazi River Basin including people building within the Valley has led the valley to lose its actual nature. Thus, excessive sand and debris have affected the flow of rain waters through the valley.

Last week, the National Assembly advised the government to conduct a thorough assessment of the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit Agency (DART) operations and come up with ways to improve its services.

The committee also recommended that the government should consider opening up the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system to other companies to provide competition to DART and boost efficiency in service delivery.

Tabling a report on activities undertaken by the Parliamentary Committee on Regional Administration and Local Government in 2023, the Chairman of the committee, Dennis Londo said DART was established to facilitate passenger transport in Dar es Salaam and to be a public institution that generates profits to enable it to contribute to the country's revenue.

He said that in its analysis the committee they were satisfied that the BRT projects were progressing well since the first phase, which involved the construction of infrastructure from Kivukoni to Kimara and later to Mbezi and its branches.

Londo said that the second phase involved the construction of infrastructure from Mbagala to Stesheni, and the third phase is currently underway from Stesheni to Gongolamboto.

He explained that despite the DART project being a model for several African countries, it is still facing many challenges.

He said that after a thorough analysis of the agency's report presented to the committee, the challenges identified included, individuals encroaching on the project's infrastructure, thus causing difficulties in its operations.

Londo said the agency's failure to set fares without relying on other authorities, has made it fail to operate profitably and provide adequate services.

"This situation has been causing difficulties in transportation and inconvenience to passengers," said the MP.

He explained that the agency has requested the enactment of a law to enable it to operate in other cities and towns, particularly in Arusha, Mbeya, Mwanza, and Dodoma.

"The committee is skeptical about the agency's ability to expand its operations to other cities and towns because even the DART project in Dar es Salaam is not being implemented and delivering services efficiently as intended," he said.

On April 19 2021 Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa suspended the Director of Finance and Business Development of the Dar Rapid Transit (DART), Suzana Chaula after being dissatisfied with her performance.

Mr Majaliwa decided after visiting the DART's Gerezani terminal, expressing the government's disappointment with the mismanagement of the project, whose sole aim was to simplify passenger transport in Dar es Salaam.

The Prime Minister was concerned to learn that DART has failed to buy any new bus, on grounds of lacking money, despite being in the business for the past five years.

"The CEO has failed to buy even a single bus despite being in the office for the past five years. She claims that there is no money but passengers are paying for the transport every day," he challenged.

He said, that since the beginning of the project, the number of busses has been decreasing from 140 to 85, but the management has been quiet without taking any intervention.

"While citizens are struggling every day, the management has relaxed in the offices doing nothing. This isn't acceptable at all," he said.

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