SPEECH BY ENG. RONALD LWAKATARE, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, DAR RAPID TRANSIT (DART) AGENCY, AT THE THIRD ANNUAL MOBILIZE SUMMIT, SERENA HOTEL, DAR ES SALAAM, TANZANIA
Vice President, United Republic of Tanzania (URT), Hon. Samia Suluhu Hassan
Permanent Secretary, President’s Office Regional Administration and Local Government (PO-RALG)
Permanent Secretary, Minister of Works, Transport and Communications
Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner (RC)
Head of MOBILIZE, Mr. Michael Kodransky
Chair of VREF, Mr. Torbjorn Suneson
Interim CEO, IDTP, Ms. Heather Thompson
Representative of the German Embassy, Ms. Julia Hannig
Distinguished experts and resource persons
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is indeed a great honour to welcome such a large group of distinguished stakeholders to the City of Dar es Salaam for this year’s MOBILIZE Annual Summit. At the outset, I would like to thank the Vice President of the United Republic of Tanzania, Hon. Samia Suluhu Hassan, for accepting to grace this event. On behalf of the Dar Rapid Transit (DART) agency, and the citizens and residents of Dar es Salaam, I would like to extend our warmest welcome to all the delegates.
As hosts, we take pride in welcoming you to Tanzania.
We thank the organisers for having spearheaded this event consistently over the past few years of its existence. The forum has continued to provide a platform for exchange of ideas and experience in the field of public transformation in the cities. It is extremely important that policy makers, Government officials, industry experts and private sector come together to share ideas, exchange experience and deliberate on the issues. This is a healthy development and we do support it entirely.
Dar es Salaam, is one of the fastest growing cities in the world. It is projected to expand from a population of 2.7 million in 2005 to 6.2 million in 2025 and could reach 21.4 million people by 2052, according to the African Development Bank. As of 2017, it already is home to an estimated 5.5 million people. This rapid urbanization offers many lessons on how to pilot mobility innovations, leap beyond some of the errors cities in other regions have made and find new ways to accommodate the surge in residents. Participants to this invitation-only summit have a unique opportunity to experience Dar es Salaam, a trailblazer in the African region.
Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen
At this stage, I’d like to lay out the DART’s public transport agenda. I know many of you are already very familiar with this, but I ask for your indulgence.
In Dar es Salaam, lack of sufficient infrastructure had resulted in unreliable service with astonishingly low levels of quality of transport in the city. Meanwhile, the minimal investment engaged by operators, midwifed the proliferation of daladala minibuses which had attempted to address the transport challenges in the city. Additionally, high levels of congestion due to excessive private car use; an aging road infrastructure and aging public transport vehicles; ‘captive’ public transport users; an unstable public transport sector where routes are not properly regulated; disrespectful behaviour of many road users and inadequate public transport infrastructure, which at times is worsened by vandalism.
The Daladala System, had several challenges; vehicles operating without control, no transport schedules at all, long waiting times in the middle of the route, absence of services during some hours in some areas, especially at late hours in the evening overcrowding in vehicles, bottlenecks generated in some stops due to the concentration of vehicles competing for passengers to fill the vehicles before they move, congestion of road ways and lack of safe road infrastructures that endanger both motorized and non-motorized transport users including pedestrians.
To address this problem, the Government of Tanzania established the Dar Rapid Transit Agency (DART). The aim was to create an agency that would establish and operate a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system in Dar es Salaam City to add to the City efforts to enhance mobility, safety, comfort and clean environment.
The main objective of the project is to ensure orderly flow of traffic on the city streets and roads by increasing the level of mobility, improving public urban transport, promoting the use of non-motorized transport, and to meet the ever increasing travel demand of the city residents with ultimate aim of increasing comfort and quality of life and urban development. In addition, DART system intends to generate jobs to residents by inviting people to invest in the DART bus operations, fund management and fare collection companies.
BRT is a bus-based mass transit system that essentially follows the performance and characteristics of a modem rail-based transit system but at a fraction of the cost. It consists of a corridor of exclusive and segregated lanes, high capacity articulated buses and high-performance boarding with central platform for level boarding and large closed stations that allow fare payment outside the trunk vehicles.
The Dar BRT System comprises six phases. Phase 1 infrastructure construction has been completed with financing from the World Bank and the Government of Tanzania. With support from the African Development Bank (AfDB), we are just about to embark on the establishment of the second phase. The Phase 2 BRT system is similar to Phase 1 in configuration with the system running in the middle of the road corridor. The difference is that BRT Phase 2 bus lanes will be constructed with flexible pavement as opposed to Phase 1 which comprised rigid pavement. The Non-Motorized Traffic (NMT) facilities include bicycle and pedestrian paths and pedestrian overpasses.
Ladies and Gentlemen
This BRT project has been a catalyst for public transport transformation. It has set a new standard for public transport in Dar es Salaam and in the rest of Africa. It is a signal that the government is committed to and can deliver quality public transport. That it respects commuters and that investing in public transport is a critical part of service delivery.
This project is a catalyst for environmental change and air quality improvement. We are moving our people in a manner that does not do harm to the environment. Congestion and significant private car use is a big driver of poor air quality and high carbon emissions. Something our world can no longer afford. The more people use environmentally safe public transport such as the BRT, the better for Mother Earth.
Ladies and Gentlemen, this project is a catalyst for a change in attitudes. We are making public transport attractive to encourage car users to leave their cars and their prejudices about public transport at home.
The new transport system has also introduced the use of ITS/AFCS which has drastically reduced the use of hard cash thus easing transportation and cash handling. The system is also user friendly to the disabled, thus creating equity and harmony.
In line with our government’s mandate, job creation is an important element of the BRT project, which has and will continue to create new jobs by virtue of its expansion. So far, the BRT has created about 1,000 new jobs.
I will also like to say that this project is much more than people getting on and off this world class buses and through world class stations. It is a project which is about catalyzing change and transformation.
Because of the positive impact to the lives of many city dwellers, several financial institutions have expressed interest to invest in the DART project, bringing the prospect of further economic progress. Also, many African countries are coming over learn about the BRT. Those that aspire to implement similar systems in their countries and have already come to acquire experiences from us include Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, to mention a few.
Since the commencement of bus operations in May 2016, the daily ridership has increased from 150,000 to 200,000 passengers and the fruits of the service have been appreciated by city dwellers.
Despite the many achievements, the system has some challenges; among them changing the attitudes of the commuters. We know that attitudes take time to change and we are taking steps to influence the needed change.
Let me turn to this year’s theme which is “Making Space for Mobility in Booming Cities”. The theme is pertinent as it addresses key concerns facing urban public transport in big cities. As certain city populations grow, and as their economic bases shift and evolve, even more vehicles are entering the roads each day. The sheer number of vehicles on city roads each day just carrying a single person on their daily on their daily commute to work is huge, and when added to delivery trucks and vans, service vehicles, and buses and taxis out each day, can lead to massive gridlock. It contributes to rising tensions, more fuel use, higher amounts of air pollution, and slower commuting times, while also serving up the major challenge of finding a place to park most of those vehicles near their destinations.
Increased traffic and a population that increasingly lives in one part of the city and works in another all contribute to longer commute times. Additionally, as many cities grow increasingly outward, urban and suburban sprawl places both residential and commercial real estate further away from the centre, and this decentralization leads to not only increasingly complex transit and road systems, but also to long commutes and drive-time traffic woes.
We therefore recognize that public transportation is a very effective solution to some of the mobility issues in cities and urban areas, and although it also comes with a set of challenges, transit agencies and city authorities can take steps toward quicker and more cost-effective systems for getting people where they need to go, when they need to go there.
Like many big cities across the globe, we have to address critical issues such as congestion, air pollution, high external costs, the low attraction and image of public transport, and the lack of modal integration.
Ladies and gentlemen, we stand before a cross-road. We can continue to merely invest in our existing road infrastructure to cater for the growing number of cars on our roads, or we can follow in the footsteps of other successful cities in the world and take a more holistic view, providing alternatives, encouraging public transport, as well as non-motorised transport such as cycling and walking, and, critically, integrating our different modes of transport to form a cohesive sustainable whole.
In this forum, the various actors have the opportunity to showcase their expertise and methods that address the theme. We therefore, as an Agency, align with the aspirations as well as the expected recommendations of this august Summit.
In conclusion, let me reiterate our resolve:
To create a community aware of, and committed to, a core set of values so that all road and public transport users can travel in safety.
Improved access and reduced traveling times for our residents to their workplace, educational institutions, recreation facilities and markets, by implementing an innovative public transport system which is aligned with the City’s spatial development plans
An environmentally-sustainable transport infrastructure and systems, which include the promotion of public transport and non-motorised transport choices; and finally
A transformed transport industry which is customer focused and maximizes broad based black economic empowerment.
I thank you so much for your kind attention.