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Dar es Salaam on the move: Can DART rip its impacts on commuters and tourists?

Dar es Salaam on the move: Can DART rip its impacts on commuters and tourists?



 BRT lanes around old Post (Posta ya zamani) 


Over decades, minibus taxis have been operating in Africa and other developing worlds, and have been the primary mode of mass transport for the poor and low-income earners. Regardless of how bad the minibus taxis system, it’s important to acknowledge the important role they played in the daily lives of low-income earners and the poor. However some of the challenges posed from minibus taxis called for greater concern in requiring regulatory control and improvement (Kane 2006). Due to the concerns about minibus taxis, cities in the world are searching for ways to address their urban transportation challenges (Adebambo & Adebayo, 2009) ranging from traffic congestions to road safety and environmental concerns (Mobereola, 2009). The only modern and viable alternative transportation options have grown to include Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system (Adebambo & Adebayo, 2009). BRT is defined by Levinson et al.(2003) as ‘a flexible, rubber-tired form of rapid transit that combines stations, vehicles, running ways and information technology elements into an integrated system with a strong identity’. The system integrates flexibility and low-costs features and continues to exhibit modernity and technology in comparison to the minibus taxi (Mfinanga & Ochieng, 2006).


Kivukoni front lanes




DART BRT Bus at Morogoro/Msimbazi street during trial period

The BRT system is operating successfully around the world (International Association of Public Transport [UITP], 2010) in cities like Lagos, São Paulo, Johannesburg, Curitiba, Bogota, Beijing, Los Angles and Taipei and continues to show that with functional and successful implementation, it can become a quality mass transit system capable of serving daily travel needs at affordable rate to commuters. However, this success should not be taken as an aple-to-aple comparative analysis with other cities yet to adopt this mode. Among factors like population densities, distance of the transportation corridors, and the urbanization profile (Ugo, 2014) need to be thoroughly analysed to overcome challenges of BRT in fundamental development of an affordable system that will not only meet transit objectives but will do so without sacrificing services quality and commuter satisfactions.


 BRT Bus stop at old Post (POSTA BUS STOP)

Background: DART – Dar es Salaam Rapid Transport

The city of Dar es Salaam featured similar characteristics with other growing cities in Sub-Sahara Africa. The city is served with public transport which have an ineffective quality services framework that employ untrained drivers motivated by daily or weekly revenue targets remitted to bus owners, which do not run on schedule, and are characterised by the lack of safety for passengers. Consequently, the Government of Tanzania (GoT) intends to establish, operates and manage the BRT system that is costs effective sustainable transport system for Dar es Salaam city to ensure fast and orderly flow of traffic on urban streets and roads.


Succinctly, the main objective of DART is to ensure orderly flow of traffic on urban streets and roads. This will increase the level of mobility, promoting the use of non-motorised transport, and to meet the ever increasing travel demand of the city commuters who needs comfort and quality life and urban development. In multiplier objective, DART aims to generate more jobs to residents through involving them to invest in the DART system of operations, fund management, and fare collection companies.


New installed Traffic lights along Bibi Titi and Morogoro road near DIT BRT bus stop

The need

Traffic congestion in Dar es Salaam is unspeakable; someone can spend more than fifteen minutes at a time sitting in a stationary daladala[1]. Other arteries it can be worse since there are only single lanes on either side of poorly enforced reversible lanes (ansoncfit, 2011). For example, average rush hour speeds on Ally Hassana Mwinyi road are 11.27 km/h and its takes even longer during rush hours than during normal flow.

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The costs of the city’s worsening congestion extend beyond commuters wasted time, to include problems like air and noise pollution that are threat to public health. Particulate matters from old diesel engine combustions are of particular concern to public health issues. Interesting finding shows that particle matters are more concentrated in the intersections or where traffic jam is intense[2]. Apart from noise and air pollution, accident related to transportations systems in Tanzania are very profound associated with commuters, pedestrians and cyclists. Roads have fewer sidewalks, and those that do exist are often taken over by impatient drivers trying to bypass traffic congestions.

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The view from NIDA Offices 

Having spoken all of these, we see a need to have an alternative transportation system that rips more of positive effects to negatives to commuters and other concerned citizens.  When looking on the safety of the society, the safety and quality of its transport system are important components to consider in the evaluation; and safe, quality, and reliable transport plays a significant role in that it provides access to education, trade, industry (Holtmann & Jansen, 2007). Thus, inter alia, the advantages of BRT system over minibus taxis are observed on the operation of longer buses on dedicated bus lanes, thereby offering passengers a regular, faster, safer and congestion-free ride (Ugo, 2014). Likewise Iles (2005) argues that BRT is not just a mode of transport but a means or system of mass transportations that provides faster services than available alternatives, mostly with a mean speed of 50 km/h or more and with a dedicated right of way.


Near city council BRT Bus stop

Critical assessment

DART corridors will include 137 kilometers comprises of 18 terminals and 228 stations. However, the main attraction points to be covered in the initial corridors include Kariakoo, Kivukoni, Posta, Ubungo, Magomeni, Manzese, and Kimara. The first phase of the project will have 20.80 kilometers, 31 stations and five terminals. This is expected to carry 290,000 passengers per day. The corridor has different cross sections according to the space available. However, accommodating increasing number of inhabitants without deteriorating the quality of services provided will still need to be re-evaluated. DART system need also to critically assess how the system can integrate activities that will contribute to the urban growth. This goes hand-in-hand with the need to maintain convenience, less travel time, flexibility, costs of user-oriented transportation system. And one of the challenging aspects of modern public transport serving low income earners and poor is providing the services at reasonable costs to its users and yet remain profitable to the operators while at the same time using high quality capacity buses which meet international services standards, environmentally friendly, operating at exclusive lane and at less travelling time. Leaving behind these challenges of the modern public transport, we expect DART will improve the caliber of the city by controlling traffic and providing high frequency services to commuters and tourists.

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Typical bus used for DART Rapid transit during the trial period

DART is determined to provide quality, accessible and affordable mass transport system for the residents of Dar es Salaam. This will subsequently enable poverty reduction, improve standard of living and lead to sustainable economic growth. It also acts as a pioneer of private and public investment partnership in the transport sector in the city. DART will be operated with modern and sophisticated technology. These include computerized control tower that will oversee the bus routine at all time. DART passengers will have to carry electronic cards instead of walking with cash as fare. A passenger will be only required to pay once for a trip no matter if s/he has to change a bus. Individual ownership of buses in the city will be disbanded. Instead DART as a system will work with registered companies to enable the system function better.


Interim Buses operating between mnazi mmoja nad kivukoni before the BRT starts

Landscape and road design will be made according to the conditions and restrictions of each area. Four typical areas have been defined as Kivukoni Front/ Sokoine Drive, Morogoro Road-Central Business District (CBD) area, Morogoro Road-from Bibi Titi to United Nations, Morogoro Road-from United Nations to Kawawa Road and Morogoro Road-from Kawawa to Ubungo. Land use proposed to terminal such as Kivukoni Front will comprise mainly commerce –hotels, restaurants, bars, etc-as well as institutional services. The improvement of this area will specially give more life to the hotels and to tourism activities. Banks and corporations may be attracted to this area even though it has relatively high density occupancy levels. Nevertheless, the design will try to preserve the existing trees as possible. The City is also planning of making a complete urban renewal, building two high towers with restaurants and leisure activities on the ground level as well as building underground area to serve all the area.

Closing remarks

The current transportation systems in the city call for urgent improvement and reconstruction so as to improve socio-economic livelihood of the people living in Dar es Salaam.  We also have greater concerns for the transportation systems that preserve the natural ecology and the environments as well. All these are possible and double only if we have a modern public transport that balances the needs of low income earners/poor and foreigners (tourists) at reasonable costs without sacrificing the quality of the services and running at less time while maintaining profits to the services providers.



Kivukoni front BRT Lanes


Evidence that BRT has transformed some of the areas in Dar es salaam. Msimbazi street case in pictures.


The scene before the making of BRT Lanes  in 2014


Day one, The digging for the BRT bus stops has started 


   Progress Bus stops  and BRT lanes taking shape

BEFORE THE BUS STOPS _n  BRT lanes Done , bus stops progressing


BRT lanes and Bus stops done 

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BRT bus stops are ready for use

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Challenges: Bike rider on the BRT lane


The view of Msimbazi bus stop at night


indaressalaam team