Dala dala

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A dala dala on a rural road in Zanzibar.

Dala dala are minibus share taxis in Tanzania.[1] Often overcrowded during peak hours and usually are the quickest way to get around the city thanks to the local knowledge of the driver, these minibuses developed as a response to a popular public demand for traveling within the country.[2] While the name may be a comical corruption of the English word "dollar", they are also referred to as thumni.[2]

Before minibuses became widely used, a truck with benches placed in the bed was the typical Tanzanian privately owned public transport.[3] Called chai maharagwe, these were popular c. 1990.[2]

While a dala dala may run fixed routes picking up passengers at central locations,[4] they will also stop anywhere along their route to drop someone off or allow a prospective passenger to board.[1]

In contrast to most of these minibuses, in Dar es Salaam some dala dala are publicly operated as of 2008.[AICD 1]

The History of Dala Dala in Dar es Salaam[edit]

A dala dala in the city of Dar es Salaam in the year 2008

The dala dala developed as illegal taxis in Dar es Salaam as explained above due to the drowing public demand for travel, the largest city in Tanzania, due to an underfunded and over stretched new government system of government-run public transport in an environment of rising demand for such services.[5] Between 1975 and 1983, the year dala dala were legalized, the number of buses operating in Dar es Salaam declined by 36% while the population increased by around 80%.[5] In 1983 the government transport company was allowed to sub-contract to private entities but, due to high tariffs, this did little to substantially increase the numbers of licensed dala dala which was a huge relief for cost effective commuting for the public.[5]

Further reforms in the late 1990s caused the amount of legal minibuses to increase in punctual and prompt service. Between 1991 and 1998 their numbers rose by a record breaking 450%.[5] Many privately operated minibuses continued to operate, however, and in 1998 it was estimated that these comprised nearly half of all dala dala in operation.[5] By 1998 dala dala had almost completely superseded government-run public transport returning good revenues to the Taxman; in the 12 year government-operated buses operated in the streets,[5] while around that time between 7,650 and 6,300 dala dala were operating along side the government run fleet.[5]


Two dala dalas in the city of Mwanza in the year 2015.

Dala dala are often operated by both a driver and a conductor.


These vehicles for hire have their routes allocated by a Tanzanian transport regulator, Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA[6]),[AICD 2] but syndicates (informal groups that fix fares, collect dues, and manage stations) also exist.[AICD 1] Prior to 1983, all forms of privately owned public transport were illegal in Tanzania,[5] and in 1991[2] and 1998[5] at least half of all dala dala continued to operate without a license.

In 2002 it was noted that the dala dala market "seems to remain under conditions close to classical perfect competition."[5]


Popular models for the mini buses were Toyota HiAce. Although after the vehicles were imported in the country they were than modified and customised according to the route they were serving and the time of operation during the day. Although the model may be a successful international brand for itself, the vehicles vary very much from other dala dala in the Dala Dala Bus Operating Company. From 1990 to now the Dala Dala Bus Operating company fleet is now also utilising vehicles from many other vehicle manufacturers

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Thoughts On Dala Dala Buses isteptanzania.wordpress.com, May 29, 2009
  2. ^ a b c d Tripp, Aili Mari (1997). "The Daladala Bus Wars". Changing the Rules: the Politics of Liberalization and the Urban Informal Economy in Tanzania. UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS. Retrieved June 29, 2012. 
  3. ^ Travel Guide to Zanzibar zanzibar.org
  4. ^ "How many people can you fit into a dala-dala". How many people can you fit into a dala-dala. Retrieved 2011-06-12. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Rizzo, Matteo (2002). "Being taken for a ride: privatisation of the Dar es Salaam transport system 1983–1998" (PDF). The Journal of Modern African Studies. 40 (1): 133–157. doi:10.1017/s0022278x01003846. 
  6. ^ http://www.sumatra.go.tz
  1. ^ a b Stuck in Traffic; Urban Transport in Africa (page 9) Ajay Kumar & Fanny Barrett. Africa Infrastructure Country Diagnostic in cooperation with the World Bank, January 2008. Draft Final Report.
  2. ^ Barrentt & Kumar, Page xii