When I read in the Daily Nation (July 7, 20017) that Dar Es Salaam Rapid Transport (DART) aka UDART won an international award, I was really shocked. The paper said that won a global award for its “Rapid Bus Transit (BRT) system.” I don’t have any qualms about the idea of having a transformative system that’ll reduced or bring traffic jams to an end. Again, is this project really transformative, transparent and ethical? According to the Daily Nation, announcing the award in New York, Mr Michael Kodransky, the chairman of the Sustainable Transport Award committee was quoted as saying that “this project is transformative for Dar, and it offers a source of inspiration for other African cities, where new transport systems are being planned.” Again, did Kodransky know what’s behind the curtain vis-à-vis how the project is run?
To answer the above questions, I’ll bring in a disturbing fact that the DART is controversial; because of being owned by the government and ran by the Usafiri Dar Es Salaam (UDA) whose acquisition is shrouded in mystery and revolves around obvious wheeling and dealing.
Many people know how the UDA was dubiously felled; and thereby illicitly acquired by Simon Group that’s become a big gorilla if not a government within another. Sometimes back, Members of Parliament once queried how the UDA was offered to Simon Group without following any law of procedure. The former Ubungo MP (CHADEMA), John Mnyika was once quoted as saying that “the government itself and CAG have admitted that procedures were not followed, and as we speak the Simon Group still runs the UDA, why is the government allowing this investor to continue managing UDA?” Unfortunately, Mnyika’s question has never been answered. When President John Magufuli took the helms, many were relieved believing that he’d drastically take on this lossmaking white elephant.
When it comes to tell who legally owns the UDA, former Dar Mayor, Didas Masaburi was once quoted as saying that, “it’s not true that we have sold all our shares to Simon Group. I’m ready to step down if anyone will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that all UDA shares have been sold to Simon Group.” Sadly again, nobody has ever proved that the UDA legally belongs to Simon Group. Despite that, Simon Group still enjoys good ties with the government so as to be rewarded for its illegal acquisition of the UDA; and now DART to form UDART, reward for bad job! Though the era of performing miracles went many thousands of years ago, Tanzania still has some miracles however stupefying they might be.
Who actually owns the UDA legally? Former deputy minister of Finance and Planning Adam Malima provides an answer as he was quoted before the Parliament as saying “the city of Dar Es Salaam has 51 shares and the government has 49 shares.” Where is Simon Group here? Up until now, it isn’t easy to tell about who actually owns the DART. This is a crucial question the government has to answer provided that such a project was actualised based on the loans the country got from international Financial Institutions (IFIs) which the hoi polloi will one day pay back. If the DART is truly transformative, its transformation should basically start with ethics and transparency, especially on how it was awarded to the UDA which is smudged by all standards.
Provided that president Magufuli has decidedly decided to exhume the graves and graveyards he once said he’d not revisit, we hope he’ll never allow the DART to be awarded to the UDA whose acquisition shakes many heads once mentioned. Like he intrepidly took on Escrow larceny, hopefully, Magufuli will never allow the UDART to keep on sinking our dosh. It abhors and stuns to find that such a revolutionary project is offered to controversial businesses to run it.
Although Tanzanians badly need rapid transit system, it must be run by unsoiled and competent firms but not shoddy and worrying ones as it currently is. How do we know that the DART isn’t going to come a cropper like the UDA provided that it is in the hands of the same culprit?
Source: Citizen Wed., today.