A STITCH in time saves nine, is an adage that rightly applies to the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART) as government institutions have planned to come together and deliberate challenges hogging the system before disaster strikes.
The Chief Traffic Police Commander, Mr Fortunatus Musilimu, revealed yesterday that the decision came after his tour of the DART premises and infrastructure, early this week.
The DART system that began its operations on May 10, 2016, was envisaged as the panacea to traffic congestions in the city, whereby time used to traverse 21km from Kimara stopover to the city centre was minimized from hours to less than an hour.
However, passengers are facing a torrid time in accessing the transportation system due to overloading, especially during peak hours. The buses pose a great threat to health and life of passengers, with special groups like children, pregnant women and elders being at high risk.
The sorry state of affairs for the DART buses was affirmed by Commander Musilimu, who noted that issues such as overloading, speeding and mechanical faults were detected, when they conducted an impromptu visit early this week.
“I found out that the buses are speeding up to 85 KPH instead of 50Kph, however, medium buses licensed to carry a maximum of 90 passengers are doubling, while longer ones capacitated for 200 people were found to have carried between 350 and 450 people, posing great danger,” said Commander Musilimu, during a live local radio broadcast, yesterday morning.
According to Commander Musilimu, the tour also uncovered mechanical faults of the highest level and ordered one of the buses to stop operating immediately, as it was completely in bad condition with its tires worn out.
A survey conducted by this paper a few days ago, established that various systems are no longer in good working order as it used to be in the past. Tickets are no longer available electronically; detecting machines are now replaced by people who either collect the tickets or tear them off as a sign that it has been used and hand it back to passengers.
Some of the busses no longer have destination labels, which puts passengers at crossroads as to which bus to board. Due to massive congestion in the buses, the temperature inside is very hot as a result it causes some passengers to faint while others suffer injuries because of hassles incurred while boarding.
A section of passengers using the busses expressed concern and urged that commuter busses which were plying Mbezi Mwisho to Kivukoni at 600 shillings per trip be resumed, as people are shortchanged by the system as they pay up to 1,200 shillings, but in most cases they have to struggle to get into the busses.
Commander Musilimu pledged to work with other concerned authorities to come up with ways of solving problems engulfing operations of the DART and make sure people are safely transported. In another development, the Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Paul Makonda, expressed dismay after witnessing video clips and photos of passengers struggling to get into buses via social media due to challenges of the transportation system.
“I am disappointed on how the means of transport is being operated… the President’s aspiration was to see to it that transportation challenges faced by Dar es Salaam residents becomes a thing of the past through this system,” said the RC.
He ordered a meeting with all the responsible parties in the operationalisation of the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit buses today at around 6.30am for them to furnish him on steps taken to curb the problem.