On December 23, 2019, the minister for Works, Transport and Communications, Mr Isack Kamwelwe, said the only way that the government can effectively curb unwarranted fare hikes by unscrupulous bust operators was to adopt an electronic ticketing system. That wise counsel was no doubt prompted by what the minister saw at the Ubungo Bus Terminal in Dar es Salaam where a multitude of travellers to travel upcountry for the Christmas festive season had to fork out huge sums for outrageously hiked ticket prices.
In due course of time and events, the electronic ticketing system recommended by the minister was operationalised in Dar es Salaam this week.
Basically, e-ticketing is the digital equivalent of a paper ticket: a system that is a more efficient method of ticket processing – in this case ticketing for people wishing to travel by bus, who can purchase them via their mobile phones.
However – good as the e-ticketing scheme may be in theory – its implementation has started with more than hiccups, contrary to what the Land Transport Regulatory Authority (Latra) says.
While Latra director general Gilliard Ngewe says he is happy that the system has taken off well, bus operators and some travellers see the system as of a nuisance value to be avoided like the plague.
Digital networks and appliances/applications do fail at times, causing delays, uncertainties and disruptions.
Many travellers are “digital ignoramuses;” and there is a two percent surcharge on the e-ticket fare, to be shared among the National Internet Data Centre (1.01 percent), Latra (0.5 percent) and the company that owns the e-ticketing system platform (0.49 percent).
We think Latra should give the system six months (or more) trial period during which to familiarise all stakeholders with it. Also, the Authority should not threaten bus operators with de-licencing if they go amiss during the trial period.
Value for money directive apt
The directive by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa to Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) that they should ensure there is value for money in every public project is highly commendable. In his directive, the Premier also called for closer monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the projects.
What his directive means is that every project implemented must have several characteristics, including cost-effectiveness and efficiency. These are vital parts of any strategy or programme if it is to benefit members of the society, particularly the marginalised and vulnerable ones.
Tanzania is pushing ahead with ensuring that its economy becomes fully industry-based. For this to happen, the directive is very much timely. An industry-based economy requires tight strategies, which are efficient and cost-effective.
The country is currently implementing mega projects, including construction of the standard gauge railway (SGR); the Mwalimu Nyerere Hydropower Dam; various roads and bridges, as well as expansion and renovation of some airports and airstrips.
At the same time, construction of health-care institutions - including hospitals and dispensaries - as well as construction of new classrooms, is going on.
Hence, the timely directive by the Prime Minister will ensure that these projects are implemented in time, and will be of the highest quality possible so as to be durable.
Ensuring value for money is the way to go.