More than just a three wheeled vehicle

Over the years the numbers of bajajs have increased on the roads providing employment for youth and men alike. We have yet to see a lady bajaj rider. 

According to Mashasi Hussein, 26, a bajaj rider at Mwenge in Dar es Salaam, the misunderstandings between bajaj riders and taxi drivers went on for some time at Tabata Shelli, Mwenge, Tegeta Kibaoni.

Now over he says business has picked up. "We settled our grudges through our respective associations on the grounds that we are all making an honest living. We operate within our niches' without stepping on each others toes. We have agreed we serve different clients who have different preferences," Hussein says as he gives details of his business. 

From the Indian-made bajaj Hussein earns between 20, 000/- and 30, 000/- daily. "I am required to take 15,000/- to my boss and I retain the balance," he says. A resident of Mlalakuwa in Dar es Salaam, Hussein in on the road for 17 hours each day.   A typical day for bajaj riders at Tabata, Mwenge, Mbezi Africana and Tegeta Wazo paints a picture of a booming business, which many folks depend on to beat the traffic.

Kefas William Swila, 27, a bajaj rider at Tegeta Wazo earns a cool 12000/- each day after deducting the same amount for the owner of the bajaj and subtracting fuel. His believes that people love bajajs because the services offered are much cheaper than taxis. His trips take him to Tegeta Kibaoni, Wazo, Madala, Tegeta Sokoni and Chanyika. Passengers that take the two kilometre ride between Kibaoni and Wazo are charged 500/-.

Swila says that he takes home 12,000/- at the end of the days work after taking off 7,000 T shillings for fuel to run his machine throughout the day. A glance at his window screen indicates he has paid up for an annual comprehensive insurance cover for his cycle and a card for thirty thousand shillings. Swilla says bajaj riders have started paying operation taxes to Tanzania Revenue Authority; as the government recently allowed them operate their business officially.

The three wheeled facility gained legal acceptance in 2009 when the Parliament passed a transport Bill that recognised tuk-tuks as a means of transport that could be relied on by both rural and urban people. A chairman of one of the opposition parties John Cheyo argued that the bajajs would be very essential in rural areas where the transport infrastructure system is not as developed as the urban areas. 

Neema Swai, 25 and a mother of two says that she prefers bajajs because they are cheaper than taxis and very convenient, she pays only 500/- from her door step to get to Wazo. At Mbezi Africana bus stop, there is a gentleman’s understanding that the two rival groups of bajaj riders and that is they should not encroach on each other’s parking space.  Matthew Gervas, 39, a father of two says that the volume of business has scaled up recently. Gervas is the chairman of the Africana Bajaji Group at Africana and a person living with disabilities. 

A trip to Beachcomber from the Africana bus stop which is four kilometres away costs about 1500/-.  Gervas uses about five litres of fuel per day which goes for about 6000 /-. The association has an arrangement with mechanics from Mwenge to service their bajajs every month. Just as he drives off with three passengers in his bajaj, he concludes, "I am very grateful of government's move to licence bajas, alluding to the fact that so far his machine has never had an accident.  

Charles Kisanji, 37, a bajaj driver and the accountant for the Africana Bajaji Group says that their association helps to unite them to fight against injustices and stand up for individual bajaj drivers in case of traffic problems.  Members help each other solve personal problems like sickness, domestic problems and mechanical complications. This support comes from the treasury where every member pays 3000/- every week.  Globally in over 52 countries, bajajs are a common scene on a number of African countries.  end/jer

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