Dar es Salaam is considered one of the fastest growing city and urban centers in the world. But such growth comes with challenges, such as traffic congestion, whose costs have been disproportionately high.
A survey done by World Bank estimated that Dar es Salaam residents spend approximately 34 percent of their average monthly incomes on transportation, limiting resources, like time, for productive work.
It also showed that about 60 percent of trips made daily in Dar es Salaam are by commuter buses (daladalas), 14 -15 percent by private cars and the rest by other means of transport including walking. Though private cars occupy most of the space on the road, yet they carry only few people.
All this resulted to the government drawing up plans for a rapid transit system in 2013. Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (DART) was designed to serve over 90 percent of the population who use public transport in Dar es Salaam. The project was split into six phases due to the large investment needed.
The initial project cost was financed by the World Bank which made available some $180 million for the construction of the first phase infrastructure. Phase 1 became fully operational in May 10, 2016, with 29 stations and five large terminals.
Today, DART has 147 vehicles with an estimated 170,000 daily ridership and at a fixed price of Tshs 650.
It was expected that after completion of project (phase one) private car owners would be motivated to leave their vehicles home. And so it happened.
"I stay in Kimara mwisho… I used to spend two to three hours on traffic to and from city centre, but today I spend between 30 and 40 minutes to get there and back with mwendokasi (BRT)," says Saleh Mwaitenda - a private car owner.
Apart from curbing traffic, BRT has created about 690 jobs from drivers, cleaners, guards, accountants and many more.
It has also boosted businesses like establishment of parking yards near BRT highways for motorists who opt to leave their private cars to board DART buses to city centre.
"We used to be a mechanic garage only, but we now provide parking services for the rest of the plot that we own that fits up to 90 cars. Our customers arrive as early as six in the morning, park their cars and return to pick them after work," says Karim Kassim (mechanic at the garage)
"We charge Sh1,000 per parking, besides that income we also get requests from our customers to wash their cars, a service which is offered at Sh2,000 apiece," he says.
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