Bus drivers in Tanzania seem to know their passengers well; Especially their craving ‘Need for Speed!’
Cases of highway over speeding and competition among long-distance passenger coaches plying on Tanzanian roads have always been of major concern.
Striving to beat each other as well as beating the daylight time allowed for buses to travel in Tanzania, drivers behind the Omnibus wheels result to rally-like racing making coaches susceptible to road accidents.
However, transport authorities in Tanzania have also discovered that, as drivers continue to play the ‘Fast and Furious,’ Ben Hurs, their passengers on the other hand, have also been suffering starvation, due to limited or no time allowed for them to rest and eat during the journeys.
Buses compete on the road so striving for each to be the first to reach their destinations. It is known as “Kufungua Geti!”
It means that the first bus to get into a station is the one which “Opens the Gate!”
Moving faster on the road doesn’t seem to be enough thus driver ensure that they making use of each and every minute on road, ignoring the need for people to rest, eat or attend calls of nature.
The Tanzania Times was told that the problem is experienced mostly among buses plying the Southern Highland routes as well as those heading North and the ones traveling to the Lake Zones.
Cut-throat competition between Sauli Express Bus and Golden Deer both traveling between Mbeya, Tunduma and Dar-es-salaam remain heated topics on social media.
Buses plying between Arusha and Mbeya have also been labeled notorious for refusing to stop and allow passengers to eat or attend short calls of nature. All done to ensure that they get to the next station ahead of the ‘other bus!’
In order to beat one another in reaching their respective destinations, bus drivers have been limiting the mandatory periodical breaks to allow their passengers grab something to eat or even attend nature calls.
Tanzania’s Land Transport Regulatory Authority (LATRA), has therefore decided to step in.
LATRA has just issued directive that all long-distance passenger vehicles’ operators must allow mid-journey breaks of not less than 20 minutes per trip.
In case a particular bus breaches the directives, passengers have been instructed to report the matter promptly.
The authority has provided a toll-free phone line to report any misconduct of buses or drivers through 0800110019
When interviewed drivers defended that, it was actually the passengers themselves who would rather arrive to their destinations at the earliest time possible, than waste time along the way, stopping for food.
“Most roadside eateries are not only too expensive, but offer badly prepared food delivered through slow services not considering passengers’ time,” stated some of the drivers in response to LATRA’s orders.