Dar transport in chaos over Udart troubles

Thursday October 11 2018

Passengers struggle to board a public transport

Passengers struggle to board a public transport bus operated by Udart following shortage of buses at Kimara Bus Terminal in Dar es Salaam. PHOTO | ONLINE 

By Sharon Sauwa and Peter Elias @TheCitizenTz news@tz.nationmedia.com

Dodoma/Dar. Events along the Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (Dart) yesterday were a clear manifestation that the public rapid transport system was facing serious operational challenges.

This started with Udart drivers going on a strike claiming having not been paid salaries for two months, a move that caused thousands of city commuters to get stranded at terminals and general disruption of services.

In another development, President John Magufuli yesterday issued a stern warning against (Dart) managing director Ronald Lwakatare.

This was said by the Minister of State in the President’s Office (Regional Administrations and Local Government), Mr Suleiman Jafo, during a press conference.

The minister first briefed reporters that the President had sacked Mr Lwakatare. However, before reporters dispersed they were recalled to the conference room where he told them that the President had only issued a strong warning against Mr Lwakatare.

Earlier, Mr Jafo had told reporters that the President had replaced Mr Lwakatare with Tanroad Singida regional manager Leornard Kapogo. Udart, which operates transport services along Dart, however, said transport services were disrupted because most of their buses were damaged by the May floods at Jangwani.

The disruption forced Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Paul Makonda to issue a statement over the matter. He said that he was not satisfied with the way Udart has been operating.

“I’m sure President Magufuli feels the same because the project was aimed at addressing transport woes in the city,” he said in the statement. Speaking during a tour by the labour commissioner, Udart managing director Charles Newe admitted that some officials had gone for two months without salaries.

However, Mr Newe said the company has already started to pay them. According to him the company failed to pay salaries since Tanzania Revenues Authority (TRA) froze its account over a tax dispute.

“Most of problems started in May, when some of our buses were damaged by floods at our Jangwani yard,” he said. Seventy Udart buses are still being held by TRA at Dar es Salaam Port after importers failed to pay the due taxes. Mr Jafo on Tuesday insisted that the government wouldn’t grant them an exemption.