Unpaid taxes put brakes on Dar rapid buses

08Jan 2016
Felister Peter
The Guardian
Unpaid taxes put brakes on Dar rapid buses
  • • Firm owes 8bn/- in import tax

PLANNED maiden trips of the much anticipated Dar es Salaam Rapid Transport (DART) that were scheduled to start this Sunday have been postponed.

DAR RAPID BUS TRANSIT

In an interview with The Guardian yesterday in Dar es Salaam, UDA- Rapid Transit Company (UDA-RT) Board Chairman Sabri Mabruki confirmed the postponement citing unpaid taxes as the reason behind the stalled services.
He said UDA-RT owes the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) some 8bn/- in import duty for the 140 commuter buses.
Nonetheless, he was optimistic that negotiations between UDA-RT and TRA will be fruitful. The government is represented in the talks by the Prime Minister's Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PMO-RALG) and the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications.
“There are hopes that both parties will agree on how the matter should be handled in order to allow the project to commence,” he said.
“The issue of import levy is a real challenge to us. It’s my hope that everything will be sorted-out by Monday of next week,” he added and underscored that vital infrastructure for the project for the Kivukoni—Kimara trip are completed by 95 per cent.
Meanwhile, Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) Communications Manager, David Mziray said they will be in position to announce the maiden trip bus fares before the end of this month.
He said the regulatory body is still collecting stakeholder’s views and opinions on the proposed fare; “we want to ensure that all legal matters are put clear before commencement of the project…the proposed fare for rapid buses will be announced anytime from January 20, 2016,” he noted.
During his recent visit to DART, Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa directed officials to make sure that the rapid buses are on the road by January 10 this year.
The project is expected to offer reliable public transport to the city and it consists of trunk buses operating on exclusive bus-ways that run at the centre of major roads.
At a consultative meeting on Tuesday of this week, stakeholders rejected a proposal by UDART to increase fares from 700/- to 1,400/- and recommended 400/- per each route.
The proposed fares were 1,200/- for passengers travelling from Mbezi-Kimara to Kivukoni on trunk roads, 700/- for those using feeder roads and 1,400/- for both feeder and trunk roads. The fare suggestion was also rejected by the Sumatra’s Consumers Consultative Council (Sumatra CCC).
At the public hearing meeting, the Sumatra CCC executive secretary, Dr Oscar Kikoyo said that the project can be operated even by charging small amounts of fares less than 500/- per route.
The Dar es Salaam Bus Rapid Transport (BRT) project is financed by the World Bank and the government at a cost of more than 400bn/- and covers construction of roads, main terminals, depots and feeder stations

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