A request by Tanzania Railways Limited (TRL) to increase train fares by 50 per cent for third class and 25 per cent for first and second classes was rejected by stakeholders yesterday.
The stakeholders, who were giving their views yesterday on the proposed fares, said TRL’s services were poor and unreliable thus increasing the fares would not improve the company’s situation. They said the company should first improve its services before increasing the fares.
Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) has invited stakeholders and members of general public to discuss proposals before coming into effect.
Contributing to the meeting, Sumatra Consumer Consultative Council Executive Secretary Oscar Kikoyo said his council did not support TRL’s application to increase the fares because TRL services were intended for low income earners and, therefore, an increase of 50 per cent was too much.
He said TRL’s services were also unreliable causing inconveniences to passengers.
Kikoyo noted that according to statistics the passenger fares contributed only 14 per cent of the company’s operation costs thus fare increment could not relieve the company from a financial crisis.
“Statistics show that in 2009 the passenger fares contributed 17.8 per cent to the company’s revenue and in 2010 it fell to 14.3 per cent,” Kikoyo said.
Kikoyo explained that the company’s financial demand was high thus increasing the passenger fares to get money for running the company was like a drop of water in the sea.
He said TRL’s income was 2.53bn/-, while its expenditure was 4.05bn/- thus creating a loss of 1.52bn/-. The situation has caused the suspension of the Dar es Salaam-Mwanza route.
“TRL is owned by the government by 100 per cent and the government is supposed to inject capital into the company to improve its services,” Kikoyo said.
He, however, said increasing train passenger fares might reduce TRL’s income as people would decide to travel by bus since road infrastructure had been improved.
The vice chairman of an association for defending passengers’ rights, Lawrence Mwita, said before increasing the passenger fares, TRL must improve its services and transport cargoes to neighbouring countries.
He noted that the company should also improve passenger coaches.
Mwita said TRL’s report should focus on improving railway services instead of increasing the fares, which would only affect low income passengers.
Sumatra Director General Ahmad Kilima said his authority would work on stakeholders’ recommendations before deciding whether to increase the fares or not.
TRL Marketing Manager Hassan Shaban said the company’s decision to increase the fares had been reached after considering a few things.
They include an increase in fuel prices since the last review in 2009, impact of fuel levy on railways operations, fluctuation of the Tanzanian shilling against foreign currencies and a widening cash flow gap resulting from high expenditure against revenue collection.
TRL proposes to increase the fares for third class from Dar es Salaam to Kigoma from 19,084/- to 28,800/-, while for the second class from 44,305/- to 55,500/-.
For the first class, the TRL propose to increase the fare to 75,800/- from the current 60,599/-.Other destinations that will also see a price increase include Morogoro, Dodoma, Tabora, Isaka, Shinyanga and Mwanza.
The meetings will also be held in Tabora, Mpanda and Kigoma between May 10 and June 1. On each occasion, TRL will make its submission on the proposed increase followed by comments and views from stakeholders.