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How Dar traffic jams cost 411bn/- annually

31st December 2013
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Dar es salaam is the most densely populated city in the country and according to the 2012 National Population and Housing Census, the Dar es Salaam Region has a total population of 4,364,541 which is 10 percent of the country’s population.

The current population has increased from of 2,487,288 and 1,360,865 as recorded in 2002 and 1988 census respectively. The increase represents an average annual population growth rate of 4.3 percent which is above the national population growth rate of 2.9 percent.

Most parts of the city is badly affected by huge traffic jams; faulty traffic light systems, inadequate manpower (traffic police), narrow road spaces and overtaking behavior of city drivers, has been creating pro-longed traffic congestions.

An economist Glen Weisbrod of the Economic Development Research Group, Inc; writes in his article that traffic congestion is widely viewed as a growing problem as it continues to grow faster than the overall capacity of the country’s transportation system.

The resulting traffic slowdowns can have a wide range of negative impacts on people and on the business economy, including impacts on air quality (due to additional vehicle emissions), quality of life (due to personal time delays), and business activity (due to the additional costs and reduced service areas for workforce, supplier and customer markets).

His claim is supported by the last year’s Journal of Management and Sustainability published by Canadian Center of Science and Education which states that due to traffic jam a substantial portion of working hours have to be left on streets which indirectly put adverse impact on economy.

A recent study of the city’s congestion published by this paper recently, has estimated that total congestion costs in the Dar es Salaam’s urbanized areas is 411bn/- annually with the commuter bus (daladala) owners the biggest losers, followed by employers.

The study points out that ‘daladala’ owners lose around 265bn/- in income and 25.55bn/- in fuel costs yearly, while employers lose 120.4bn/- in the same period, being wages paid to workers who are not working because they are trapped in traffic jams.

The loss is more than three times (3.09) the 133bn/- that was misappropriated from the External Payment Arrears (EPA) account operated by Bank of Tanzania (BOT), known as ‘EPA Scandal’ which analysts said could have constructed at least 24,000 classrooms or 19,000 houses for teachers in the country.

And if there is no change in the inflation rates for the coming five years, the Dar economy will lose at least 2.06trn/- which could be used to run the Works ministry for a year and half. The budget for the ministry in 2012/2013 fiscal year is 1.23trn/-

The study carried out by statisticians Edward Ntwale and Elias Samweli sought to show the effects of traffic congestion on the economy as a wake-up call to stakeholders to stop the huge economic losses.

Speaking exclusively to this paper over the weekend, Ntwale said: “…when it comes to transport and transportation in Dar es Salaam, traffic jams have been considered as problem No: 1 to workers. Everyday work-hours are unnecessarily wasted due to jams. They have a great economic impact on production and thus on our economy.”

He added: “In fact, the congestion causes untold suffering to people going to offices as well as those heading to various destinations. In Dar es Salaam, the situation is more alarming mainly due to vehicular movement. Vehicles daily are faulty and emit black smoke in excess of the prescribed limit.”

The study has revealed that the average number of trips per commuter bus without traffic is 14.84 per day, whereas the average number of trips with jams is 10.25. On the other hand, the average income is 19,762/50 per normal trip while the income with traffic jams is just 19,569/- per trip.

Ntwale clarifies: “This means that on a free flow trip one daladala collects an average of (14.84 x 19,762.50) = 293,276/- per day and (10.25 x 19,569) = 200,582/- per day on trips that encounter congestion and this excludes cost of fuel. This means that one Daladala loses a total of 103,676/= daily due to traffic jams.”

According to data obtained from The Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra), currently there are at least 7000 registered Daladalas in the city; this brings to approximately 726m/- (103,676 x 7000) the income wasted by traffic jams on a daily basis.

“If we calculate for 365 days, the income lost annually by daladala owners alone is 265bn/- (726m x 365).

For his part, Samweli said when it comes to fuel consumption, the findings show that in a free flow a single daladala uses 2.64litres of fuel per trip while this increases to 4.31litres on traffic jams trips.

Samweli said: “We have discovered that a single daladala consumes (14.84 x 2.64) = 39.18litres on a free flow and (10.25 x 4.31) = 44.18litres on traffic jams per day; this makes an extra of (44.18 – 39.18) = 5.0litres of fuel per trip per day.”

He added: “If a single daladala uses an extra 5.0 litres of fuel per day, the same will use 1,825litres of fuel in 365 days. The average price of fuel in the city is 2000/- per litre. A single daladala will incur an extra cost of 3.6m/-, with the 7,000 registered Daladalas in the city, having to pay additional 25.55bn/- in fuel costs.”

Samweli told this reporter that when it comes to the cost of time wasted due to congestion; a passenger spends almost three times longer on the road compared to a free flow trip. On a free flow trip a daladala takes only 58 minutes, while the same spends 151minutes for a trip on congested roads.

According to Employment and Earnings Survey (EES) Analytical Report of 2012 conducted by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Dar es Salaam region has approximately 500,000 persons working in public and private sectors and most of them in or around the city. The EES indicates that about 80 percent out of the 500,000, equivalent to 400,000 workers depend on public transport.

Assuming half of 400,000 workers who depend on daladalas get late to work due to traffic jams, and if the normal working hours are from 8:00am to 4:00pm (8hours), and work for 160 hours a month yet according to the EES most Tanzanians receive monthly wage of between 65,000/- and 500,000/=-with an average of 282,500/- per month.

Therefore, said he: “…a passenger (worker) wastes (151 – 58) = 93min or 1.55 hours due to traffic jams. This indicates that a worker will work for fewer hours which are (8 – 1.55) = 6.45hrs. If we consider 5 working days for 11 months a year, a single worker will waste a total of 341 hours per year due to traffic jams.”

For that reason, based on the assumptions that a worker is being paid (282,500 /160) = 1,765/- per hour, (EES), this implies that the employer will waste a wage of (1.55 x 1,765) = 2,735/75 per day per worker for unproductive hours (wasted wage). This is equivalent to (341 x 1,765) = 601,865/- per year, which is the amount of wages being paid to an employee without working.

“Based on our assumptions that 200,000 workers get late to work on every working day it implies that (601,865 x 200,000) = 120.4bn/- is being wasted on wages for unproductive hours. We can therefore, conclude that the findings have shown the grand total loss incurred due to traffic jams considering the three areas is an estimated 411bn/- per year,” he said.

“Bus owners lose 265.6bn/- in income, 25.55bn/- in extra fuel costs while employers lose 120.4bn/- in the time wasted by workers due to traffic jams,” he added.

Although various attempts have been taken by the city’s authority to devise means thus help to reduce the intensity of traffic problem in Dar es Salaam but in fact nothing has been achieved yet. The attempts include the widening of roads, construction of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) System and the use of rail.

Launching the BRT Infrastructure Phase 1 in September last year, President Jakaya Kikwete promised road users in city of the end of long queues and traffic jams which have been a nuisance to the road users in recent years.

The President said the government will be taking efforts to end road jams through construction of flyovers through this project, with several roads from the City Councils were handed over to Tanzania Roads Agency (TANROADS) for maintenance and modernization.

Juma Hassan a Dar es Salaam resident told this reporter that: “…the basic problem of the city's traffic system is that the existing road network is incapable of holding the ever-increasing number of motor vehicles. I think, having traffic police or traffic light can provide a temporary solution, so if we are to save the 411bn/- lose some alternatives such as elevated expressways, subways and multi-layer fly-over across the city hold the key to solving the problem.”

Samuel Mkilya a Daladala driver said: “…for sure, the jam is costing us a lot and it is unfortunate our bosses don’t know and even if they know about the situation they pretend that they do not know anything...For them money is first. In the contract that I signed with my boss (the Daladala owner) I am required to handle to him at least 100,000/- daily however with the jam it is hard to get such amount.”

He added, “…I have personally decided not to work during the day, so I handle over the car to my friend ‘deiwaka’ (part time day-worker) who works during the day whereas at night it is my turn. So with such technique I can manage to have the money for the boss. Working at night is easy as there are no traffic jams and you are also not restricted to the specific route that you have registered with Sumatra.”

Bhoke Mwita a Dar es Salaam resident who was fired as she kept coming late to his work told The Guardian that her boss could not bear with her as she was coming late to work unwillingly. “…My boss told me to open the shop at 7:00 am, but the traffic jam forced me to open the shop late at 9:00 am which resulted into my dismissal.”

She added, “It was sad news to me as my mother as well as my siblings depend on me, I didn’t know what to do, I tried my best to get up very early but the jam kept me late…nevertheless, I didn’t lose hope as I took my little savings and open food stall (Mama Lishe) so that life could go on. I don’t know what my life would have been if I did not make some savings.”

For his part, Finnegan Kato, an employee with the Dar es Salaam City Council (DCC) who stays in Kibamba (the city’s suburb) was once quoted as saying: “I am always wake up at 4:30Am, but due to traffic jams I normally reach at work around 10:00 am. From home to my working place is about 30km.”

He added, ”The government should work seriously to amend the matter…I know a friend who was sacked from work because he was late at work…for sure the traffic jam not only harm the economy but also causes stress on us. We are suffering economically, physically and even mentally.”

According to the minister for Works, John Magufuli the government has set aside at least 4.4bn/- for the purchase of a modern vessel that would ferry passengers from Bagamoyo to Dar port adding that the government has also set at least 20.5bn/- for the widening on Bagamoyo road from Kawawa road junction and Ali Hassan Mwinyi to Tegeta.

“So should we wait until those projects are done? And by the way, when will they be finished?” Asked Joshua Joel a business practitioner. He said that apart from being late to their businesses, offices, work places or on any scheduled appointments, mental disgust, exhaustion and loss of effective man hours is a colossal drain on the resources of the whole country.

For his part when asked to comment on the matter during his official visit to Tanzania, the Vice President of Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Hiroshi Kato noted “…for sure I have personally experienced it since I arrived here, it is extraordinary, is it because of the rapid expansion of economy? Vehicles are many, this is a problem and all stakeholders should seriously think of a plan to end the matter. “

He added, “JICA has approved an endorsement of about 52.5bn/- to finance construction of Tazara flyover. There is another project which is yet to come but these two projects are not enough to amend the matter. You need more by-pass roads, and make more us use of railway and others.”

According to him, traffic congestion is no fun for anyone, but it’s deadly for public transport, as when cars and commuter buses are stuck in traffic jams they cause people to fall behind their schedule thus make public transport unattractive for customers and increases operational costs and therefore congestion impacts on economy must be eliminated whenever possible. 

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN