BUS, TRAIN FARES HIKE EVOKES MIXED FEELINGS

MIXED reactions have greeted the announcement of increased fares for commuter, upcountry buses as well as trains with most service users expressing disappointment.

Mr Franklin Kibati, a resident of Mbezi Beach in Dar es Salaam, said that as the government announces new fares, they should also get ready to announce corresponding increases in wages.

Mr Kibati said that a 100/- increased in daladala fare might seem little but it had serious implications including increases in inflation levels as well as causing increases in the price of flour, beans and industrial products.

“As long as people’s incomes remain the same, I see more persons getting more corrupt because a large proportion of them depend wholly on their salaries. Also this hike in fares needs to translate to better transport services and not the ones people are getting now,” he said.

Mrs Lilian Rweyemamu, a resident of Chang’ombe area also in the city said that the increase in fares especially for upcountry buses simply means that only those well to do would now be able to go on vacation.

Mrs Rweyemamu explained that she is a housewife with three children and that she doesn’t see herself going to Bukoba with her family during festive seasons because with a fare of 85,000/-, it would be next to impossible to afford it when her husband earns a minimum wage.

Mr Ismail Salim, a resident of Kariakoo said he was totally against the new fares, noting that the government was being inconsiderate with the current status of the transport system. He said he did not believe that the cost of living was higher than the capacity to maintain and run buses.

“The little I know about this sector is that incomes from buses benefit four groups of people – the bus owners, the workers namely driver and conductor, the traffic police and the noisy touts at the bus stops,” he exclaimed.

Mr Salim said it saddened him that the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) had the audacity to announce hikes in fares when they had failed to get rid of touts, failed to institute level sitting and refrain drivers from cutting short their routes.

Sumatra Consumer Consultative Council Executive Secretary, Mr Oscar Kikoyo, said the council hadn’t received any official letter regarding the fare hike but said that statistically, it was the right time to increase fares for both commuter and upcountry buses.

Mr Kikoyo acknowledged that the council was involved last year in discussions when reviewing the application to increase the fares and that they would issue a statement today after reading the announcement.

Sumatra agreed to a 2011 request by bus owners to hike daladala fares from 300/- to 400/- for adults and from 150/- to 200/- for students with effect from April 12, this year. A transporter, Mr Zacharia Hans Poppe, said the fares hike was long overdue, given the costs of operations that had been increasing by the day.

“People have this misconception that transporters make alarmingly big profits but this isn’t the case. ‘Wananchi’ have no sympathy, just imagine when the application was filed, fuel was at 850/- a litre and now it’s thrice the amount yet freight and other charges are still the same,” he lamented.

The Tanzania Bus Owners Association (TABOA) Treasurer, Mr Issa Nkya, also added his voice to the debate of high operation costs, saying that much as they were grateful for the hike, they continued to persist for a 50 per cent hike and not the 20.3 per cent that Sumatra had granted them.

Mr Nkya said that the proposed 50 per cent increase was aimed to enable owners make a small profit, but most importantly so that they can improve their services for the good of the end user – the traveller.

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