Friday, December 15, 2017

Sumatra advises bus owners on licences

By Halili Letea @hletea

Dar es Salaam. The Surface and Marine Transport (Sumatra) has urged bus operators to apply for additional licencing to curb shortage of buses this festive season.

This was said by Sumatra road and licencing manager Mr Leo Ngowi, when speaking to The Citizen at Ubungo Bus Terminal (UBT) on Thursday. Mr Ngowi added that so far they have received application from Prince Muna owner, who wants to increase two buses.

“It is normal that the demand of buses increase during festive season so that is why we are calling for bus owners to apply for additional licences,” said Mr Ngowi.

There have been claims that some unscrupulous passenger bus operators have pressed into service some dilapidated vehicles that are strictly speaking not roadworthy. This is in efforts to tap into the increased demand for passenger transport up-country for folk who want to spend Christmas in such places like Kilimanjaro, Mwanza, Mbeya – and even in neighbouring countries!

In the event, the traffic police division has responded to that by conducting strict inspection of upcountry buses to make sure that road transport is reliable and safe throughout the festive season.

During an inspection led by the head of UBT traffic police force Said Ibrahim, more than ten buses were barred from operation on account of serious mechanical problems.

Speaking to The Citizen in the city on Tuesday, Mr Ibrahim said the aim is to ensure the safety of bus passengers and crews in the mad rush that’s associated with festive seasons.

“There has been a hike in the number of passengers wishing to travel upcountry – and it is not surprising that greedy bus owners press into service even buses that are out of order. This is unacceptable,” he said.

One of the buses which were barred from transporting passengers is the ‘Shambarai Express,’ which operates between Dar es Salaam and Tanga.

Crews of some of the busses that were hit by the traffic police ban refused to talk to journalists on the matter. However, they were seen begging and otherwise cajoling the traffic police to change their mind and allow them to put their buses on the road this once!

However, the police officers were adamant, insisting that the ‘faulty’ buses must first be repaired and passed as fit for transporting passengers on the country’s public roads.