Dar es Salaam. The Land Transport Regulatory Authority (Latra) said yesterday that it was not ready to adjust daladala fares upwards as requested by operators before the latter abide by the bus seat capacity requirement.
The regulator said the city bus operators needed to come up with concrete justifications.
Latra’s road transport director Johansen Kahatano told The Citizen that raising the bus fares had its principles and procedures.
“If the operators want Latra to adjust the bus fares upwards they must come up with concrete justifications such as well documented losses for the regulator to analyse and make a decision,” he said.
This comes after commuter bus operators urged the authority for an upward adjustment of fares so they would operate profitably.
Earlier, Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner urged operators to avoid crowding in public buses as a measure to prevent further spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to Mr Kahatano, return on business investment must be between 10 and 25 percent and if the return was below the said level, then the authority could adjust the fares but if the return was above that, the fares could even be reduced.
Mr Kahatano noted that the procedures to increase transport fares could take three to four months, therefore operators must abide by the government directives.
“It is only that people don’t realize the intention of the government. At the moment it is not the time for commuters to stand or be crowded in buses. Operators must understand that coronavirus is a huge challenge,” he said.
“Last Tuesday in Dodoma, we met with Health minister, Dar es Salaam RC and some members of the Dar es Salaam Commuter Bus Owners Association (Darcoboa) to discuss about the need to maintain bus seat capacity and how to operate during the third wave of Covid-19 but it is surprisingly that operators are requesting for the upward adjustment of fares.”
Mr Kahatano stressed that they expected to start the implementation of level seats by August 1, this year (today).
“By collaborating with the police force, we are currently providing social distance, face masks and sanitizing hands awareness to commuters in several bus stations.”
Last Wednesday, Darcoboa chairman Kisimat Jaffar told The Citizen that, after deliberating on the role of commuter bus operators in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, they believe they really need to reduce the number of passengers boarding their vehicles all the time.
The challenge, however, they argued, was that the need to do so came at a time when fuel prices had risen sharply, thus rendering the transport business unprofitable. This is especially when buses must not carry more passengers other than as per the seat capacity.
Fuel prices have gone up by 58 percent during the past 12 months due to a rise in global demand and increasing local taxes and levies.
Dar es Salaam motorists currently pay Sh2,405 per litre of petrol, up from Sh1,520 in June last year, available data show.
“Despite the coronavirus pandemic, operating at the ‘level seat’ mode renders the business unprofitable because fuel prices have gone up. In a situation like this, how do you expect us to continue with the business?” he argued.
He said operators had also requested the government - through the Dar es Salaam RC - to allow a few commuters to stand in buses to help them realise some profit.
“Directing us not to allow commuters to stand without adjusting bus fares will affect our businesses,” he said, insisting that without fare increases, they would have to park their buses until the Coronavirus disease situation improved in the country.