The number of vehicles in Tanzania's Bus Rapid Transit system has increased to 210 from the 70 it had last year, enabling the increase of the number of routes the buses ply.
In 2021, the multibillion-shilling Dar es Salaam Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) project received a major boost after the government released 70 buses held at the Dar es Salaam Port.
Since their importation in 2018, the buses remained stranded at port over what was described as miscommunication between the government and the Usafiri Dar es Salaam-Rapid Transit (Uda-RT).
The $151 million vehicles were released by Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Amos Makalla who allowed the 70 vehicles to start operations to ease commuter transportation nightmares on the 21.1 kilometres BRT network by the UDA-RT.
Dar Rapid Transit Agency (Dart) Public Relations manager William Gatambi said that the number of buses plying the BRT infrastructure have now increased to 210.
“This has enabled BRT to introduce four new feeder routes compared to the past when we had two. The new feeder routes are the Kibaha-Kimara, Mlonganzila-Kimara and Magufuli-Kimara, Mwenge via Morocco,” he said, adding that the Gerezani-Muhimbili and Kimara-Mbezi are the old routes.
Mr Gatambi said the construction of infrastructure for BRT Phase II, including the 20.3 kilometres of exclusive BRT lanes and Non-Motorized Transport (NMT) facilities along the Kilwa Road corridor and part of Kawawa road, was progressing well.
“Construction of infrastructure including a depot, feeder routes and a major station at Gerezani in Kariakoo have been completed,” he said.
As at November last year, road construction was at 40 per cent, hindered by several challenges, including the lockdown, that adversely affected timely importation of construction materials.
In June 2021, President Samia Suluhu Hassan, during an inspection visit, expressed her dissatisfaction over the progress of the project, saying it was contributing to the deterioration of the economy, and affecting people who depend on the transportation network.
“You are taking us back. Mbagala is among the most populated areas that depends on the road for daily transport and transportation. The pace at which the construction is delayed equals the one at which you hold back their economy,” President Samia said.
“The more they delay, the more they undermine our economic life. I have come to establish the causes of the delay; the government or contractor, in order to take appropriate action.”
Last year, the government secured a total of $246.7 million in loans from the World Bank for the construction of phases three and four of the BRT.
Phase Three of the BRT project involves construction of infrastructure projects on the 23.6-kilometre road stretching along Nyerere Road between Gongo la Mboto and the City Centre and parts of Uhuru Road from Tazara to Kariakoo Gerezani.
Phase four involves construction of a 16.1-kilometre stretch along Bagamoyo and Sam Nujoma roads.
Already Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit Agency (Dart) had received $148.1 million for phase three and $99.9 million for phase four.
Early last year, Dart disbursed $2.46 million to 77 Dar es Salaam residents to pave the way for the construction of the 23.6 kilometre stretch of the BRT phase 3 project.
Dart is a bus-based mass transit system connecting the suburbs of Dar es Salaam to the Central Business District, which began operations in May 2016.
Construction of the $154 million first phase was completed in December 2015, funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank and the Tanzanian government.
Phase I of the BRT system has a total length of 21 kilometres and runs from Kimara via Ubungo ending at Kivukoni, Morocco and Gerezani.