AS residents of Mwanza, Kagera and some areas of Geita express joy following improved services of MV Victoria Hapa Kazi Tu in Lake Victoria, truck operators have said the vessel has affected their business.
Speaking on different occasions in Kagera Region, hauliers admitted to have lost business to the newly refurbished vessel as most traders preferred using marine transport due to low costs.
They said cargo transport charges offered by MV Victoria Hapa Kazi Tu were lower than their companies’.
They said transporting cargo by MV Victoria Hapa Kazi Tu was lower by almost two thirds compared to theirs.
A truck driver working with Kayombo Transporter Company Limited, Mr Juma Shija, said while the vessel set a flat rate of only 27,000/- per tonne, the hauliers estimated the amount according how it pleased them.
He told ‘Daily News’ recently that as a result of affordability in cargo transport on Mv Victoria Hapa Kazi Tu, some hauliers had been challenged to reduce the charges from between 700,000/- and 500,000/- to 300,000/- per trip, depending on cargo size.
“At the beginning, lorry owners clung to high transport charges, but they eventually accepted the situation after the majority of our customers switched to marine transport. All traders whose consignments’ destination is for Bukoba started running away. We have remained with a few, whose destinations are for other districts of Kagera,” said Mr Shija.
Another lorry driver, Mr Sweda Hamis, who has been transporting rice, cement and some groceries, echoed similar comments, saying many hauliers were engaging in transporting cargo destined to other parts of Kagera Region, mostly Karagwe and Ngara districts.
While lorry operators speak of the blow brought about by MV Victoria Hapa Kazi Tu in their hauling business, bus operators said their business had to some extent remained unaffected, saying many passengers preferred road to marine transport.
Bus agent for Africa Raha, Freester and Isamilo companies Abdurazak Philbert said the companies had maintained their passengers simply because buses took a short time compared to marine, where people spent the whole night travelling.
“We spend only seven hours on road, but marine transport it takes the whole night. However, I admit that we have lost our customers, who used our bus transport for their cargos. For some cargos we charge between 50,000 and 100,000/- from Bukoba to Mwanza,” he said.
When reached for comments, Marine Services Company Limited (MSCL) Acting Marketing and Commercial Manager Philemon Bagambilana said: “MV Victoria Hapa Kazi Tu was currently carrying about 1,200 passengers per trip from Mwanza to Bukoba in this high season (October to December) who can be carried by over 20 buses. In a low season, we ship between 300 and 400 passengers. Thus, let people see this different and come with answers to all their questions.”
He added that was no different between the time people spent on any means of transport, given the fact that MV Victoria Hapa Kazi Tu started its journey at about 10pm, with passengers having to sleep as they do at home and reach their destinations at 06am.
“They also have a chance to go to various entertainment halls, experience various luxurious events people have access to only on a ship. For those with office assignments have a chance to fulfil their duties aboard a ship as MV Victoria Hapa Kazi is staffed with services,” he stressed.