Moving to Tanzania?
More Transportation Options in Tanzania
On Four Wheels or Two: It’s Always An Adventure
On October 29, 2012, TAZARA started running commuter train services in Dar es Salaam to help fight the heavy traffic congestion in the city. There are two lines, which both start at Dar es Salaam’s main train station. One line ends at Mwakanga Station, located 30km from the city center, and the other line terminates in Kurasini. There are also special train lines to the main tourist destinations in Tanzania as well as one-off trains for special events or festivals. A bus rapid transit system is also currently under construction.
Small buses called daladala are a popular option among locals, as the single fare only costs about 400 TZS (0.25 USD). Daladala are often very crowded with no air-conditioning, however, and the drivers are known for driving recklessly. Add to that the heavy traffic, which can turn a 15-minute ride into an hour-long journey, and the fact that the vehicles often break down mid-route, and this may not be the best option for everyone.
Taxis, Bajaji, and Pikipiki
There are no official taxi companies in Tanzania, but Uber taxi services have recently taken off in Dar es Salaam. Finding a regular taxi is pretty straightforward, and you can always find them either cruising the streets or standing at specific points. Once you have gotten to know a taxi driver, it is a good idea to get his cell phone number in case you need to call a taxi at night, when it is not safe to search for one on the streets. Taxi fares are negotiable and should be decided on before you depart.
Bajaji (known as tuk-tuks in other countries) are little three-wheeled auto rickshaws that cost half the price of a normal taxi. They have a reputation for being dangerous, but have the advantage of being able to drive alongside the road in the almost inevitable event of a traffic jam. Motorcycles known as pikipiki will also take on a passenger or two for a fare. Due to safety considerations, taking this form of transportation is not advisable.
Cycling: Is It Worth the Risk?
If you choose to get around by bicycle in Tanzania’s cities, you do so at your own risk. There are no bicycle lanes, so you will be bicycling in traffic along with cars, trucks, reckless daladala drivers, bajajis, etc. Traveling by bicycle is probably only a good idea if you have honed your defensive cycling skills and already have experience cycling in the chaotic city traffic of a third-world country.
No Rules on the Road
Driving in Tanzania is very chaotic. Traffic laws are often not obeyed and aggressive driving and poor driving skills are the norm. Avoid driving at night. Roads are often in poor condition with huge potholes. This only gets worse during the rainy season, when roads and bridges are often washed away and potholes get even bigger, making driving even more dangerous than usual.
When driving in cities, be sure to keep your doors locked, your windows up, and your valuables out of sight. While you are stopped at traffic lights, it’s common for thieves to come and remove exterior parts of your vehicle.
For the first six months, you can drive in Tanzania on your home country’s license or an international license. If you are staying in Tanzania for more than six months, though, you will need to obtain a Tanzanian driver’s license.
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