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 per cent.
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 Tsh1.6 million ($700) and Tsh2 million ($875) depending on the size of the vehicle.
“Experts have told us that the use of natural gas would save between 30 to 50 per cent of what one spends on fuel. We therefore agreed that all Dart buses should use natural gas. This will also help cut fares significantly,” Mr Musomba said.
Mr Musomba also said that the Dart phase two project is underway.
Phase two runs on the southeast part of the city, a total of 19.3km. It includes procurement of buses and the fare collection system. More than 100 trunk buses with a capacity of 140 passengers will provide both normal (stopping at all stations) and express services (stopping only at connector stations).
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 per cent of Dar es Salaam residents.
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 said that with only a single filling station in the city, he sometimes finds it difficult to use his vehicle, calling upon TPDC to increase the number of filling centres which should be operational for 24 hours.
To address this challenge the government will partner with fuel stations to distribute natural gas.
“We plan to use fuel filling stations to distribute natural gas. This means motorists will be able to refill at any nearby petrol station,” Mr Musomba said, noting a deal has already been struck with Camel and Oilcom.
He added that TPDC will build the main natural gas distribution centre at the University of Dar es Salaam.