Tanzania – Natural Gas-Powered Buses

Travellers in the country’s economic hub can expect reduced fares after the switch, while construction on the second phase of the rapid transit system is set for January 2019.

Tanzania plans to shift to natural gas-powered buses on its rapid transit routes in Dar es Salaam, a move it says will cut fuel use by up to 50%, The East African reports.

The Tanzania Petroleum Development Corporation (TPDC) acting director-general, Mr. Kapuulya Musomba, says the entire project will see at least 800 buses switch to natural gas.

“The University of Dar es Salaam and Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology are ready to install the natural gas systems on the vehicles,” he said.

Dar es Salaam Rapid Transit (Dart) chief executive, Mr. Ronald Lwakatare, said the system is available to all including private transport operators.

To install the system, a vehicle owner requires between Tsh1.6m ($700) and Tsh2m ($875) depending on the size of the vehicle.

The switch to natural gas will also help cut fares significantly, Musomba said.

Mr. Ben Kisisiwe, a Dar es Salaam resident, says he converted his vehicle from petrol to natural gas and currently spends about Tsh10,000 ($4.38) per trip, saving at least Tsh20,000 ($8.76).

However, he noted that there is only a single filling station in the city at present and called upon TPDC to increase the number of filling centres.

To address this challenge, the government will partner with fuel stations to distribute natural gas so that motorists will be able to refill at any nearby petrol station, Musomba said, noting a deal has already been struck with Camel and Oilcom.

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Upon completion in 2035, the Dart project will benefit 90% of the city’s residents. Image: CC 2017

Meanwhile, Dart says it is determined to get the second operator for the bus rapid transit (BRT) system by early 2019 after two failures in the past.

Dart chief executive Lwakatare told The Citizen in September that the process to procure the services of the second operator has started and will be completed by January. “We will soon advertise the tender in accordance with public procurement procedures,” he said.

This is Dart’s third attempt to find an operator to join Udart in providing BRT services in the city, Lwakatare noted.

The operator will be required to deploy at least 165 new buses in the first phase of project under the supply, operation and maintenance mode.

In order to attract eligible operators, Dart is revising contractual terms such as those related to fees paid by operators to Dart for using the BRT infrastructure. Dart is, for example, considering changing the modality of charging the access fees from a fixed rate of Sh8.1m per day to a sum that will depend on the number of kilometres covered in a day.

The suggestion of changing the fee structure will be shared with key stakeholders, including the World Bank and the government.

Dart started the procurement process for the second operator in 2016, about a year after the BRT services were launched. However, the tender was re-advertised in May 2017 after an eligible operator could not be found.

The second operator is expected to ease the shortage of buses that currently plagues BRT services.

Lwakatare said commuters should not lose hope as far as improvement of BRT services was concerned. “In fact, we are going to implement all six phases of the BRT project as planned. [In 2018] we expect to embark on the construction of the project’s second phase,” he noted.

Phase two runs on the southeast part of the city, a total of 19.3km. More than 100 trunk buses with a capacity of 140 passengers will provide both normal and express services.

Inaugurated in 2015, the first phase of the project comprises 25km of special roads connecting the suburbs to the central business district. The entire project has six phases which, upon completion in 2035, will benefit 90% of the city’s residents.

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Find out more in the Africa Research Bulletin:

East Africa: New Momentum to Revive Infrastructure Drive Agenda
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 55, Issue 6 – August 2018

 

Roads and Railways: Tanzania
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 55, Issue 4 – June 2018

Tanzania: World Bank Economic Update
Economic, Financial and Technical series
Vol. 54, Issue 11 – January 2018

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