THE other day I read somewhere that bus crews of the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit ( DaRT), commuter system do not give Tsh500 in change to their fare-paying passengers most of the time!
According to a letter by one ‘J anet Mvungi’ published in the Readers’ Forum of a Dar es Salaambased ki-Swahili Daily, DaRT bus conductors have not being giving the correct/full change to commuters as a matter of course.
[ See ‘ Chenji irudishwe mabasi ya Udart;’ page 11; ‘ Mwananchi,’ J anuary 24, 2019]. Some DaRT fares have Tsh500 as a factor per trip.. . For ex ample: Tsh65 0 between the city centre and Ubungo along Morogoro Road.. . So, a passenger who forks out (say) a Tsh1,000 note in payment of the fare ex pects Tsh350 back in change.
This, Ms Mvungi wrote, doesn’t always happen – especially as some DaRT bus conductors claim (truly or falsely) that they don’t have readyto- hand the Tsh500 currency denomination needed as part of the change.
In the event, passengers have no option but to ‘write off’ the Tsh500 that’s otherwise lawfully is due to them – getting off the bus the poorer by Tsh500!
So, what happens to the untold q uantitative and q ualitative numbers of Tsh500 that are ‘perforce abandoned’ by hapless commuters, pray? I was knocked for a loop when I did the math on this!
According to Ms Mvungi– and ‘ T he Guardian’ ( Tanz ania) edition of J uly 11, 2016 – DaRT serves some 200,000 commuters daily across Dar es Salaam, the nation’s largest metropolis of 5. 6 m population.
[ See ‘ DaRT to phase out manual bus tickets’ by G ertrude Mbago; < https:/ / www. ippmedia.com/en/news/> ] . Now, let’s do the math on this together.. .
Scenario One: assuming that only 5 0,000 out of DaRT’s 200,000 daily commuters pay fares in which Tsh500 factors – and that they’re forced to forego the Tsh500 in change due to them, but isn’t available from bus conductors – this means that the DaRT bus crews pocket Tsh25m daily (5 0,000 passengers-X - Tsh500)! Scenario T wo: even if one disputes ‘5 0,000’ as the number of daily commuters forced to abandon their (Tsh500) change per trip–and claims that such commuters total ( say) 10,000 a day–this still works out at Tsh5m going into the bus crews’ pockets daily, come rain, come shine!
The first phase of the project has a combined length of 21.1km, with 29 stations and dedicated bus lanes on three trunk routes. The system is operated by the Usafiri Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (UdaRT). . .
Currently, Dar is serviced by a fleet of 14 0 Chinese-built G olden Dragon buses, providing ex press and local services 18 hours daily from 05:00am to 11:00pm.
Going by the first scenario above: Tsh25m divided among 280 crews (two each for the 140 UDaRT buses) means each crew member pockets Tsh89, 28 5 daily from the Tsh500 that isn’t given as change to the 50,000 hapless commuters!
This beautifully- silly but highly-lucrative ‘ business habit’ has been going on for G od knows how long, Ms. Mvungi laments. And–in My Book of Things, anyway – the gouging is more than likely to go on and on and on well into the unforeseen future.
As long as the bus crews (and their coconspiratorial overseers) reap where they haven’t sown, they will take no positive steps to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs for them, I say!
If the DaRT Management cannot ensure ready availability of small change on its buses at all times, then it should round off the fares to eliminate the gouging–which amounts to bare-faced swindling in broad daylight (and part of the night when the buses are running.. . ) !
DaRT is a commuter bus transport system that started operating in Dar es Salaam on May 10, 2016. Construction of the first of the 6- phase project by the Austrian construction firm Strabag International G mbH was completed in December 2015 at a total cost of € 134 m, funded by the African Development Bank, the World Bank and the Tanzania G overnment.
(One euro is roughly eq ual to US$1.13, or Tsh2,64 8 ) . . . But, back to basics.. . Is this ‘hatuna shilling mia tano ya chenji’ NOT an elaborate malfeasance calculated to gouge unsuspecting/hapless commuters? Can it be definitively shown that the money so accumulated is NOT pocketed by bus crews and other officials of dubious probity.. . ?
Is the DaRT top brass aware of what’s going on in that area? Oh, I don’t know. But, this is the proverbial elephant in the room which the relevant institutions ‘refuse’ to see – let alone acknowledge its presence and, therefore, effectively ‘sort it out!