Until the year 2010 Dar es Salaam had no room for the Indian Bajaji and or a tricycle to be used as a means of transporting passengers. Today it is a common feature around Dar es Salaam. The Indian Bajaji was allowed on the streets to ease the need for transport services in the city after it became clear that taxis couldn’t handle the increased number of passengers.
It was also one way through which the government wanted to create more jobs. Omary Rajabu owns one, and says it generates some good revenue at a time when everything – from food commodities to transportation – is near to impossible. ”I learnt to drive the Bajaji in one day but after almost a week or two I was comfortable on the road,” Rajabu says. “I can now make Tshs15,000 (US$10) a day and that is enough to survive on in Dar es Salaam. While other people may prefer the motorbike commonly known as the “boda boda”, which is relatively cheaper than the Bajaji, most customers prefer to hire the Bajaji due to its safety record. ”We do have customers of all sorts, those with money and those with little, you see, we are cheaper compared to taxis.
Customers can hire us for as low as US$ 0.6 which is the minimum price,”Rajabu says as he approaches a customer who is enquiring about the services. The customer is ready to pay him S$1.35) for five km distance which would have cost the customer almost $3.18 by taxi, but Rajabu refuses an offer and directs her to the other Bajaji driver. ”We have our own union and you will always find me at this place if you need my services” Rajabu says. While all the taxis operating in Dar are painted white besides the yellow, green and blue stripes for Kinondoni, Ilala and Temeke districts respectively as a way of increasing safety to passengers hiring them, Bajaji operators enjoy this flexibility and you will usually come across Bajaji of all sorts of colours, red, green, blue yellow, you name it.
“We usually receive many customers than “bodaboda” and or taxi operators because we usually go for even smaller routes of say, a kilometer route which we usually charge customers a mere 1,000/= (US$0.6)”. He says with the hot weather Dar es Salaam is experiencing, most people prefer to use Bajaji because they are not as hot as or boda boda where a customer is exposed to direct sun while for the taxi hire, customers will usually complain of sweating especially if they are stuck in a traffic jam. ”With the increase in fuel prices, a passenger will always be asked to pay more for his trip if he or she requests for air conditioning services, while with the Bajaji there is enough ventilation even when there is traffic jam, ” Rajabu says.
“The Bajaj consumes little fuel compared to a taxi.” “I usually use $4.45 fuel on my daily trips and still come up with a profit of US$9.55, that is a good business and am almost one year old in this trade.
Whereas this may be good news for the operators and passengers, it is a tragedy to the taxi business. Mohamed Rashid, a taxi driver who says since the introduction of the Bajaji, he hardly makes more than tz30,000 (US$19.10) a day. The challenge facing is the high level of risk as the Bajaji have a high accident ratio since most operators not been to driving schools in order for them to obtain driving permits. Apart from that the Bajai has really changed the life of many.