TRANSPORT WOES: Police admit same crisis as military -SUMATRA announcement based on bus owners pressure THISDAY REPORTER Dar es Salaam POLICE authorities have echoed their military counterparts in stating that the recent announcement by transport regulators, obliging all security men and women in uniform to henceforth pay requisite fares when using public bus transport, has caught them financially unprepared. The Director of Finance and Administration in the Tanzania Police Force, Commissioner of Police, Clodwig Mtweve, confirmed to THISDAY yesterday that the declaration by the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) could very well hit them (police) as hard as the Tanzania People�s Defence Forces (TPDF). The SUMATRA announcement was based on a decision made by members of the Dar es Salaam Commuter Bus Owners Association (DARCOBOA), to scrap the traditional free rides hitherto enjoyed by police and military personnel in uniform, and charge them bus fare like everybody else. Mtweve said the cash-strapped police force currently does not have any budgeted funds to tackle the looming public transport nightmare for its nationwide staff network. We are not in an adequate enough financial position to meet the costs of transporting our officers to and from work, as well as when they use public transport in the course of their daily official duties, Mtweve stated. He said the force currently has about 27,000 personnel across the country, with up to 7,000 stationed in Dar es Salaam alone. I dont think the force can provide its own transport for all police officers in the country, everyday, everywhere and at all times, he said, describing the decision to require uniformed police officers to pay fare when using public transport as a major logistical challenge. He further noted that the overall effectiveness of police operations may be undermined as a result of this crisis. Mtweve was speaking in the wake of reports published this week by THISDAY that top TPDF brass and senior officials from the Ministry of Defence and National Service will be meeting in the near future to discuss the problem. According to incumbent defence minister Dr Hussein Mwinyi, the announcement to start charging bus fares to military personnel in uniform has taken the ministry completely by surprise, since its budget proposals for 2008/09 have already been prepared and approved by Parliament, and did not include any allocation for provision of transport allowances to TPDF personnel Dr Mwinyi said in an interview with THISDAY earlier this week that the situation as it now stood would require a top-level meeting on how to address the resulting logistical problem of how to transport TPDF troops living outside barracks to and from work. Some mainly junior-rank TPDF soldiers have told THISDAY that they are currently not given any transport allowances because they previously did not need to pay for public transport. Since the new system became effective on August 1, there have already been reports of isolated incidents of army men refusing to pay bus fares while commuting within Dar es Salaam. Several daladala conductors have complained of being beaten up by soldiers whom they tried to press to pay up. In the case of the police, Commissioner Mtweve acknowledged that there is no formal legislation that allows policemen and women to be given free rides on public transport service vehicles. Its a social dilemma, because bus operators are looking to make a profit yet there is no actual law stating that police officers shall ride passenger buses free of charge, he remarked. Like Dr Mwinyi, Mtweve said the fact that Parliament has already approved the 2008/09 budget proposals for the Ministry of Home Affairs (under which the police force falls) makes it all the more difficult to solve this particular problem. It is understood that although it made the announcement, SUMATRA has yet to officially endorse the DARCOBOA decision to start charging bus fares to uniformed police and military personnel. According to industry sources, SUMATRA has not issued any directive to this effect. It is the bus owners themselves who decided to start charging police and military officers for using public transport services�apparently after realizing that there is no law stopping them, said one reliable source.