A hop on, hop off Dar city tour on the ‘Mwendokasi’

Friday March 04 2022
Commuters inside a Dar Rapid Transit bus in Dar es Salaam that uses dedicated lanes.

Commuters inside a Dar Rapid Transit bus in Dar es Salaam that uses dedicated lanes. PHOTO | AFP


Recently a friend and I did a whistle-stop tour of Dar es Salaam using the Dar Rapid Transport (Dart) known locally as Mwendokasi (high speed). It was also a chance for us to familiarise ourselves with this public service that has changed the way the residents of this megacity commute.

The buses, limited to dedicated lanes, are deployed on key city routes connecting the Central Business District with the suburbs and peri-urban areas. It now takes 45 minutes from Kivukoni to Mbezi Louis using the Mwendokasi compared with the two to three hours it to took previously by Dala Dala.

A flat rate of Tsh400 ($0.17) for short routes, Tsh650 ($0.28) medium distance and Tsh800 ($ 0.34) on long routes. We were on the medium distance one. A ticket can be used multiple times up to three hours, with a change of bus and routes within the said time.

We started our city at the Dart terminal at the Kivukoni Fish Market, which was already a bustle of activity as fishing boats arrived bearing their daily catch for sale. Located near the Dar es Salaam Port, the market is popular with locals, both buyers and sellers.

The fish market is served by the Morogoro Road-City Centre-Mbezi Louis route. This route also happens to be the one going past major city landmarks. Our round trip took us through the Morogoro, Kawawa, Msimbazi, Morocco and Sam Nujoma roads.

We hopped off at the famous Kariakoo commercial centre and later Msimbazi area with its swarm of petty traders. We drove by the city’s historical sites of St Joseph Cathedral built in 1897, and now seat of the Dar es Salaam Archdiocese; the Azania Lutheran Church; Mwenge curio market, where there is a stop for those wishing to buy Makonde carvings.

The DART bust station at Kisutu.

The DART bust station at Kisutu. We started our 'city tour' at Kivukoni. PHOTO | COURTESY

Making the round-trip by Dart was a new experience, probably enjoyed by both visitors to the city and locals. Wherever we hopped off, we enjoyed a different side of the city, from cultural to historical to food.

Our first stop was Kisutu, where we hopped off for mid-morning breakfast at the K-Tea Shop. The Indian breakfast of kebabs and fresh coconut chutney served with masala tea (a mixture of ginger, cinnamon and cardamon).

From Kisatu, we took the next bus headed to Mbezi Louis terminal.

Before we knew it, we had spent almost the entire day riding the bus, hopping on and off as we chose to. Our trip saw us scour most of the Dart routes.

There are now 210 Dart buses plying Dar es Salaam routes, according to William Gatambi, of Dart. Only ambulances and police patrol cars are allowed on this lane to attend to emergencies. But boda-bodas and Bajaji (three wheeler taxis) still rule the roads citywide.

The buses have a capacity of 140 passengers, seated and standing; and have special seats for those with physical disabilities and the elderly.

Phase Five of the Dart commences soon, after the recent signing of a concessional loan of Tsh470 billion (€178 million) between France and Tanzania.