EDITORIAL: Yes, BRT can be made much more efficient, lucrative

Sunday September 16 2018

 

Dar es Salaam’s bus rapid transit (BRT) system was opened for service on May 10, 2016 under one operator – Usafiri Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (Udart).

But a little more than two years down the road, the system has yet to find its feet, so to speak.

BRT is still in its first of six phases designed to serve over 90 per cent of the city’s estimated 5.6 million residents, covering 130.3 kilometres that will eventually connect outlying areas with the central business district.

The first phase of the project was designed to transport some 300,000 commuters for 18 hours daily (5am to 11pm), using 140 buses along 29 bus stages on the 21-kilometre route from Kimara Mwisho to Kivukoni, with another route branching off from Magomeni to Morocco.

However, the project has not been performing as smoothly as it was intended.

For example, while funds for the second phase totalling $160 million ($141 million from AfDB and the rest from the government) were secured in October 2015, construction of a 19-kilometre system connecting Kilwa and Kawawa roads via Kivukoni has yet to begin. Besides, the search for a second operator for the first phase is still problematic after two failed attempts. If and when identified – hopefully next January – the new operator would join Udart, bringing in at least 165 new buses to complement the first phase.

But for that to happen, the decision-makers at the Dar Rapid Transit agency (Dart) say they have revisited their contract terms and conditions.

As they currently are the terms are not conducive enough for prospective investors to take the plunge in a project that has yet to prove efficacious and lucrative more than two years after it was commissioned.

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