Why DART has delayed to operate: JPM

17Apr 2016
Guardian On Sunday
Why DART has delayed to operate: JPM
  • Says crooks planned to swindle govt out of its project shares

PRESIDENT John Magufuli revealed yesterday that the long-awaited Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART) project took long to commence because some people he described as crooks planned to take over the government’s 49 per cent stake in the project for themselves.

President John Magufuli ( 3rd R ) and Japanese Ambassador Masaharu Yoshida (l) unveils the picture of the Fly-over which is to be built at Mandela road and Nyerere junction in Dar es Salaam.

Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART) project is co-financed by the World Bank and the government of Tanzania. The $290million project is a loan to be repaid over a period of 40 years.

However, since the project was completed early this year it has not started operations, with the public becoming anxious about the endless postponements of the operational date of the project, highly expected to ease traffic congestion on city roads.

“After the project was completed we could not allow it to start operations because we smelt fraud. The total cost of the project is Sh388bn … this is taxpayers’ monies who deserve better,” said a visibly perturbed president.

“The government has 49 per cent shares in the project, but there were some people who conspired to take over the government share for their own benefit,” he said, adding:

“We were therefore forced to put the project on hold as we worked on the matter in question.”Speaking during a ground-breaking ceremony to construct a flyover at the Tazara intersection in Dar es Salaam, President Magufuli said the project being financed by the World Bank would be repaid by Tanzanian taxpayers.

According to the president, it was in the public interest that the project had to delay because the conspirators who bent on “swindling the government” had gone ahead and hiked fares more than those charged by normal commuter buses.

“If we had allowed the project to commence operations then the taxpayers would not at all have benefited from their contribution,” said Dr Magufuli, assuring the people that the project would take off soon.

Construction of the 20.9km-long express way from Kimara to Kivukoni and from Morocco to Magomeni was launched in 2010 and was expected to be completed in 2015.

At least 50 buses were set for trial runs from April 1, this year, but until now not a single bus has been on the road while fares for each route are yet to be announced.

President Magufuli stated that his government was planning to embark on the implementation of the second phase of the Dar es Salaam Bus Rapid Transit project (BRT).

This phase will include expansion of Kilwa-Chang’ombe-Kawawa highway. It will also involve the construction of flyovers at the Kilwa road-Mandela road junction and Kilwa road-Chang’ombe road junction.

The president said the government was now in negotiations with development partners to secure funds for implementation of the project’s third phase, which will involve expansion of Nyerere road up to Gongo la Mboto, and Uhuru Street to Azikiwe Street.

He urged the people to pay taxes, considering that the budget for development projects had been increased to 40 per cent, from 27 per cent last year.
Early this year, the government suspended Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART) Executive Officer Asteria Mlambo over procurement irregularities.

The procurement process involved an interim provider in the DART project.In April, last year, the government, through DART, signed an agreement with Usafiri Dar es Salaam Rapid Transport Company to help it run the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the interim period.

The government undertook the DART project to reduce traffic jams and facilitate modern means of transport in the city with a population of more than five million people.

UDA and the Dar es Salaam Commuter Bus Owners Association (DARCOBOA) established a joint company, UDA-RT, specifically to run the DART project.

In January, this year, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa lashed out at exorbitant bus fares proposed by the interim operator of the project, describing them as unjustifiable.

The premier thus directed the Minister of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administration and Local Government), Mr George Simbachawene, and the Minister for Works, Transport and Communication, Prof Makame Mbarawa, to immediately meet with the stakeholders with a view to coming up with reasonable fare rates.

The PM’s directive came following a public hearing coordinated by the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) at which UDA-RT suggested fares ranging between 700/- and 1,400/-.

In November, last year, Majaliwa summoned top government officials to explain why DART was not yet operating.The buses were earlier expected to offer commuter services on the new road network by January 10, this year, the launch was cancelled at the eleventh hour as the government stuck to its guns, saying it would not allow operations to commence unless DART had cleared tax debts for its 140-strong bus fleet.