Nundu warns bus owners By Dominic Nkolimwa 17th January 2011 Email Print Comments Says they are victimising passengers to protect touts Transport minister Omari Nundu leaves Ubungo Bus Terminal in Dar es Salaam after an impromptu visit yesterday to follow up on his directive that touts not recognised by bus owners steer clear of the facility. (Photo: Selemani Mpochi) Transport minister Omari Nundu has said he will not allow upcountry bus owners to raise fares until they stop protecting touts at Ubungo Bus Terminal (UBT). In his second-day surprise visit to the bus terminal in Dar es Salaam yesterday, the minister said while the government was struggling to remove the touts from the terminal, bus owners were busy protecting them because they relied on them to hunt for passengers for them. He said in so doing they increased operational costs. The Tanzania Bus Owners Association (TABOA) recently met with the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (Sumatra) officials to discuss upcountry fare hikes claiming that operational costs had gone up. But the minister warned yesterday: We will not accept their request to raise bus fares because the owners are the source of the rise in operational costs of their businesses, said Nundu when talking to The Guardian reporters at the terminal. The minister said he had discovered that there were many weaknesses in running the business at the terminal which accommodates more than 700 upcountry buses. It is the presence of touts which increases the operational costs of the business and nothing else. If the owners manage to do away with the touts there would be no need to increase the fares. Look, a tout is paid 2,000/- per passenger and they do not have specific bus companies they work for, he observed. When visiting the terminal on Saturday the minister found out that one tout works for more than one bus company. Personally I went there and bought a ticket to travel to Dodoma. They just wrote the fare on the bunch of tickets they had in their hands, he said. He explained further that on asking them as to why they were not issuing tickets in the offices; they replied: This is the way we operate. When I told them that I had postponed my trip and I wanted my money back, it became a problem. They refused to give me back the money and it was a hustle to do so, he said. Yesterday the minister bought five tickets from the offices of Super Sonic Company Limited operating buses playing between Dar es Salaam and Dodoma. The tickets were bought from different touts. The minister discovered that the processes were different though the trip was the same. This indicates that owners lose their money unnecessarily and want the passengers to cover the cost through fare hiking. This is unacceptable they have to correct these operational anomalies, he said. He said through the use of touts, each upcountry bus with 65 seats can lose more than 130,000/- daily, which goes as payment to the touts. I will not be cheated by anybody on this now. I have witnessed this personally, talked to the touts and agents and passengers who did not identify me. I am happy that I have got what I wanted, said Nundu. He said his ministry held lengthy discussions with TABOA and agreed that by January 15 (last Saturday); all agents would wear identity cards as a way of removing the touts. But I have been cheated. There are touts with identity cards but they are not agents. They operate with any bus company contrary to our agreement, Nundu said. Nundu said touts operating at the terminal caused a loss to the government since no tax was paid on the tickets issued by the touts and at the same time victimised passengers and benefited the touts. He said the government will not tolerate tricks by bus owners to make super profits by passing the load to the passengers. If we increase bus fares, the final consumer who is the passenger, will be the one affected. That is why I say TABOA should find other reasons to convince the government to accept their proposal, Nundu said. Some drivers have congratulated the minister for the surprise visit at Ubungo to the bus terminal to see how it operated. Idd Mohamed Alsaedy who is a bus driver said if all ministers were doing the same, things would have changed for the better. Gasper Kimaro, who works with another bus company, said it was very difficult for the government to remove the touts, because bus owners were using them to hunt for passengers. Recently the government through the Surface and Marine and Transport Regulatory Authority Consumer Consultative Council (Sumatra-CCC) opposed proposals by the Dar es Salaam Commuter Buses Owners Association (DARCOBOA) to increase bus fares by 51/- per kilometre.