Magufuli’s multi-billion bus station still shrouded in controversy
Dar es Salaam. The use of the multi-billion Magufuli bus station at Mbezi Luis on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam is now attracting users, authorities and operators.
The Tanzania Bus Owners Association (Taboa), Ubungo Town Council and travelers disagree on the facility’s ability to accommodate passenger loading and unloading of over 300 buses, so much so that it can remove private pick-up stations.
Taboa says the project, which cost more than 50 billion shillings, was built without the involvement of transport stakeholders and became operational before its completion.
The carriers further claim that the terminal was also built on the outskirts of the city, which makes their services to travelers difficult and limits the security of the latter, saying that the presence of many touts on the site also poses a risk to The travellers.
Travelers also expressed their grievances about the situation they were going through to catch buses before they took off at 6 a.m., noting that the establishment of private pick-up stations in parts of the city would be a huge relief for them.
But, the municipal authorities of Ubungo, who manage the facility, insist that the new terminal was already good enough and that the government was satisfied before starting construction of the state-of-the-art facility which would be unique in East Africa and central.
It comes as a report published by The Citizen a week ago showed how the municipality of Ubungo was starving for revenue due to more than 70-90 buses not using the new facility to load and unload passengers. and baggage, thereby threatening perceived potential. of the establishment.
The government has already said that as of March 2022, a total of 53.09 billion shillings or 94.73% has been paid to complete the construction which is expected to take place in June this year.
According to Mr. Elinas Emmanuel, a member of the executive committee of Taboa, having buses operating outside the Magufuli bus station was the result of a business innovation that brings services closer to customers/travellers who live in other parts of town than Mbezi Louis alone.
At least, he told the Citizen, the old Ubungo bus station was at a more convenient point for all vehicles to start and end their journeys, as well as the availability of all the commuter buses that ply the routes to all corners of the city.
“The Magufuli bus station is far from a person residing in Mkuranga in the coastal region who needs to arrive before 6am to board a bus at the facility. It’s torture and carriers are doing what they can to reduce the burden. ”
He says the number of vehicles needed to start the journey at Magufuli bus station is over 300 vehicles while the departure parking lot has a capacity of only 108 buses.
“Now they want all the buses in, but the parking lot itself is not able to take even half of the vehicles leaving in the morning, let alone those leaving around 7 a.m., who should be at inside for inspection.”
“If you have an area of only 108 vehicles and you ask more than 300 vehicles to use the same area, it just causes unnecessary chaos,” he says.
He says if the main issue is to regulate or monitor security and generate revenue, the government can get that revenue from any facility if there is a clear strategy.
“Forcing everyone into Magufuli because of income is a sign of laziness and lack of creativity. You can’t force that because you have a seat somewhere, so everyone (a passenger or a bus owner) should start the journey from there,” he notes.
“So we still believe the government is smart enough to design something that will benefit all parties. We will be satisfied and obey if they set up special stations even in every district or high population area. We will be ready to pay the necessary fees that they deem appropriate…”, he adds.
Another source of confusion, he notes, is the presence of many bus vendors, while security is weak as everyone is allowed to enter the establishment provided they have paid an entrance fee. of 300 Sh.
“We advised them at one point to act like an airport where you’re not allowed to enter the airport unless you’re a traveler, which we haven’t seen implemented…” reveals he.
He notes that even though phase two of the terminal is 100% complete, bus parking will remain at a capacity of 108 buses, as other areas targeted for completion are garages and overnight parking lots.
“The terminal doesn’t even have a special checkpoint, instead the inspector checks by entering the bottom of the bus, so some accidents happen due to hostile infrastructure,” he says.
An investigation by The Citizen at the private bus terminal in the Shekilango, Urafiki and Riverside areas saw hundreds of travelers using the areas while explaining how expensive it was to get to the Magufuli facility.
“I come from Kisemvule and as I have no one to stay nearby here, I had to get up at 1 am, prepare my children and then start the journey. I came here (Urafiki) because it is cheaper than going to Mbezi Luis”, explains Mrs. Elizabeth Sylas who was supposed to go to Mwanza.
She says it would be better if there were special pick-up terminals for buses using the Morogoro route, like in Mbagala, to facilitate travel for travelers from the coastal region.
“I have two young children, I used a three wheeler (bajaji) and a motorbike to come here, this place is cheaper than going to Magufuli. Why are there no points boards for buses in other government-controlled areas?” Ms. Elizabeth asked.
Mr Joseph Andrew says: “The buses have their own private stations close to residences, but they also reduce the inconvenience of boarding a daladala or hiring transport to Mbezi, which is far from many places. But the municipality insists the government is losing revenue.
“In other words, if I travel, I have to pay for the journey to Mbezi and then pay the entrance fee so that the government can collect revenue. The government must help the people, not oppress them,” he insists.
A bus operator in Urafiki states that 95% of its customers (travellers) use the station every day and only 5% wait at the Magufuli terminal.
“What feasibility study did they conduct to conclude that the construction of a regional terminal in Mbezi without pick-up points in strategic areas would pay off?” She questions.
But Ubungo authorities argue that the government was satisfied before construction began and that each bus should operate from there and not otherwise.
Addressing the issue of travelers finding it difficult to get to the modern stand, Ubungo Municipality Commercial Officer Prisca Mjema said the government cannot satisfy everyone in its strategic plans.
“The government built the stand with the certainty that it was sufficient to accommodate the existing buses and aimed to alleviate the suffering of the population. So it wasn’t just about someone rushing in and starting construction,” she says.
“We cannot invest billions of money in a project that will have no impact later. So to say that the stand is not enough is a lie and when it is 100% complete it will meet the needs of all travelers and carriers. ”
She says some buses have never been there to pick up passengers, but they complain that the area is not enough, “First take your bus there, then complain to the government instead of speak when you have never used the facility”.
According to Ms Mjema, they removed the touts from the bar to avoid further challenges.
“The government has no plans to set up special stations elsewhere because the area is adequate enough. The upper area accommodates 1,180 cars and there is an overnight parking lot that can carry more than 300 vehicles, so all buses must operate from the regional bus terminal,” she says.