Within a cycle of twelve months, you are sure to have a December and a January; and we all know that these are months when people travel a lot.
Why are we always caught unawares? The Good Citizen (24 December 2018) had this front page news item titled: “Scores stranded amid Christmas transport crisis”: “Hundreds of people were unable to travel from Dar es Salaam’s Ubungo Bus Terminal, despite the authorities having issued temporary permits to 182 buses to operate between the City and other destinations”.
The other news item that made it to the front page was the delivery, to the country, of an Airbus A220-300 aircraft, aimed at revamping Air Tanzania Company Limited.
Two, or so weeks later, the surface transport situation had not improved, this time, for people returning to Dar es Salaam and other areas, after the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
A news item to that effect is to be found on page 3 of the Good Citizen on Saturday of 5 January 2019.
It is titled: “Travellers stranded at Moshi bus stand”, and the writer had this to say: “Despite the bus transport challenge, there has been a congestion of travellers at the bus stand, a situation that has created a conducive environment for conmen who hoodwink travelers stealing their belongings”.
Oh, how sad! The language in which the writer put to pen and paper her message in the above sentence does not quite make sense.
The preposition “Despite” is used to denote contrast; that something happened although there was a situation that was meant to prevent it from occurring; or vice versa.
That something did not happen, much as there was a situation which would have allowed it to take place.
For example, it may be said that despite your good qualifications, you may not easily get a job; or, despite your poor qualifications, you do easily land a job.
When the writer says: “Despite the bus transport challenge, there has been a congestion of travellers at the bus stand”, is she expecting the reader to be surprised? There are no buses so, congestion is to be expected.
One way to get out of this situation is to do away with the preposition “Despite” and replace it with a phrase such as: “As a result of”, and the sentence would read as follows: “As a result of the bus transport challenge, there has been a congestion of travellers at the bus stand, a situation that has created a conducive environment for conmen who hoodwink travelers stealing their belongings”.
Alternatively, the writer could acknowledge that Sumatra had issued permits for extra buses to address the challenge.
Then, “Despite”, can be kept: “Despite the existence of more buses that is usual, there is still a congestion of travelers at the bus station…….”
By the way, who are these conmen? The writer tells us: “Some travelers said they had been conned and their belongings stolen by crooks ‘pausing’ as bus ticket agents, explaining that the malpractice was widespread at the bus stand”.
I can see these not-so-good people pausing here and there as they explain a thing or two to the hapless travelers, but, no, they were not “pausing” as bus ticket agents. They were “posing”.
They were impostors. They were pretending to be bus ticket agents, although they were not. That is what “posing” means.
Luckily, the authorities promised to improve the security situation at the bus stand by deploying municipal militia, to protect the interests of the travelers.
Nevertheless, it looks like the situation had not improved, 24 hours later, according to a news item carried by the Good Citizen on Sunday of 6 January (p. 3) titled.
“Upcountry travellers still face woes”, whereby the reporter proceeded to inform as follows: “Although Sumatra had issued temporary permits for minibus operators to carry passengers, the situation had not improved”.
Why? According to the writer, “the demand for transport ‘outpaced’ supply”. While “outpace” could be quite in order, my verb of choice in these circumstances would be” outstripped”.
“Demand for transport outstripped supply”. Can we plan, so that we do not have to always lament about transport woes come December, come January?
Happy Mapinduzi Day!