The Journal of Modern African Studies

Being taken for a ride: privatisation of the Dar es Salaam transport system 1983–1998

Matteo  Rizzo  a1
a1 Doctoral candidate, SOAS, University of London. Thanks go to David Anderson, Maria Cristina Ercolessi, John Sender and two anonymous referees for comments on earlier drafts of this paper.


This paper analyses the effects of privatisation and deregulation of the Dar es Salaam transport system. It starts with an account of the decline of the government-owned transport company and the first opening of the market to private buses in 1983. The analysis then moves to the progressive deregulation of the sector and its impact on transport supply. Competition between private operators in the oversupplied market manifests itself in non-compliance with safety rules, and inefficiencies in the fare structures. Labour relations with the private sector are then examined to illustrate the logic of the market. The results of a questionnaire answered by 668 workers suggest that the reaction of casual workers to exploitative conditions of employment characterises many aspects of the operation of the transport system. The impact of deregulation is therefore most clearly to be seen in the nature of labour relations within the sector, and it is argued that there is a need for state regulation to monitor and enforce conditions of employment within the private sector if service provision is to be improved.