Why DART gains popularity as cost-effective, affordable

13Jun 2016
Daniel Semberya
The Guardian
Why DART gains popularity as cost-effective, affordable

Bus rapid transit (BRT) has gained popularity as a cost-effective alternative to urban rail investments. Rapid vehicles were designed to make the ride more comfortable, accessible, and convenient for passengers.

Former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi and wife Sitti Mwinyi take a ride in the BRT busses last week in Dar es Salaam. Seated in front seat is the DART’s Ag Chief Executive, Engineer Ronald Rwakatare.

Design features, such as comfortable seating and larger windows improve ride quality, while features such as multiple doors, low-floor designs for easier boarding.

Tanzania has set precedent in the region on how it has revolutionalised its transport sector and makes cities and towns better places to live. This is evidenced after coming into operational of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Dar es Salaam, last May this year.

Easy transportation is one of big attributes that make a city or a town great and livable. And this factor has obviously been a challenging one for many of Africa's cities and towns.

Rapid urbanisation taking place in Africa and Tanzania in particular, has been associated with some challenges; more often related to inadequate social services ranging from water, electricity, health, recreation facilities, transportation and many more.

Former President Ali Hassan Mwinyi together with his wife Sitti Mwinyi, last Thursday toured the BRT project saying “I have learnt and experienced a lot of things. I kindly urge Dar es Salaam Residents and the public in general to safeguard the BRT project not only for their benefit but also to the benefit of the generation to come.”

Mwinyi further urged responsible authorities to give more education awareness to the public to better understand the importance of the project and its regulations. “I therefore, call upon authorities to continue improving the service, while sorting out the already noticed challenges facing the project,” he urged.

He noted that the introduction of the project in the city was one of the tourist attractions due to its unique view.

For his part, UDART Managing Director David Mgwassa told former president that awareness amongst the public was going well because even the number of incidents compared to previous weeks had dropped in the last two weeks.

“I can assure you this week we have not realised any accident, and this indicates that people have now started recognising and following the laid down rules and regulations of the project,” he said.

According to him, the electronic ticketing system which is anticipated to arrest the congestion when passengers are struggling to buy tickets from windows is set to begin at anytime next month.

Other findings show that time and again some authorities have been caught unprepared or their plans did not match with this rural urban movement. Dar es Salaam, a Tanzania commercial city has not been spared from such challenges. Take transportation sector as an example.

Experts say traffic jams in Dar es Salaam was reportedly costing the Tanzanian economy 4bn/-(US dollars 2.5 million) every day.

Also in their studies the Confederation of Tanzania Industries (CTI) also revealed that traffic jams were eating more than 20 per cent of annual profits of most businesses.

A daily 4bn/-loss aside, workers spend hours on their way to workplaces and environmental pollution causes diseases such as cancer which cost huge sums of money to treat. With the annual loss of 1.4trn/- , the amount of the money lost in traffic jams far exceeds some of the ministries' allocated budgets.

Seeing a need to ease traffic and decongest Dar Salaam, the government came up with the Dar es Salaam rapid transit (DART) system that is currently operating.

It is good to note the seriousness of the government in making sure that this World Bank funded project succeeds for the benefit of all Tanzanians.

The already completed phase one BRT project of 20.9 kilometres, special trunk road from Kimara terminal to Kivukoni area, Msimbazi road from Fire to Kariakoo-Gerezani area and a part of Kawawa Road from Magomeni to Morocco junction; has envisioned reducing traffic jams and congestion in Dar es Salaam City.

Experts have also revealed that the implementation of this project would lead Dar's residents at consuming less fuel by staying fewer hours on roads and this obviously translates into the wellbeing of individuals and the country at large.

Coupled with other measures such as having few companies to provide public transport service in the city as opposed to current system where individuals are licensed to provide the service, the project would reduce the loss incurred in road congestion and therefore channel the resources to other development ventures.

Obviously, the current state of affairs where Dar es Salaam has more than 6,000 commuter buses that carry only 43 per cent of the city dwellers was not sustainable for development to take place. A single BRT bus has the capacity of carrying between 80 and 160 passengers.

It is always difficult for human beings to adapt to changes, but for this case changes must take place.
BRT is evidently one of the projects that show how the Public Private Partnership (PPP) modal can work not only in Tanzania but also in the region. The system has worked better in other African countries like Nigeria and South Africa, thus, there is no reason why it should not do the same here.

With a better infrastructure and enforcing laws and regulations toward better use of such infrastructure will contribute to make Dar es Salaam a better place to live. Being the largest commercial city in Tanzania, it is obvious that the impact will be felt to other areas of Tanzania.

President John Magufuli in a different past occasion revealed that the long-awaited Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART) project took long to commence because there were some people, he described as crooks that had planned to take over the government’s 49 per cent stake in the project for themselves.

The total cost of the project is Sh388bn ($ 185milion) this is taxpayers’ monies who deserve better,” said a visibly perturbed president.

Ester Barnabas a resident of Kimara told this paper that before the introduction of the BRT buses, she was spending two to three hours from Kimara to Kivukoni, but today she can spend 30 minutes only. “I am taking this opportunity to commend the government for enabling this project to become a reality,” she noted.

Oswald Mtarambilwa a resident of Kigamboni said “This kind of transport is very good and fits all kind of people; the haves and have not. It is time efficiency, and it saves money,” he said.