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Land transport regulation in Tanzania: what you should know about LATRA

  • Legal Development 1 juin 2021 1 juin 2021
  • Afrique

  • Infrastructure

In Tanzania, road and rail are the most common methods of transport for cargo and passengers. In this article, we discuss the Land Transport Regulatory Authority (LATRA) and its role as the regulator of the land transport sector, which impacts all stakeholders in road, rail and cable transport in Tanzania.

Background

LATRA is established by the Land Transport Regulatory Authority Act No. 3 of 2019 (the Act). The Act repealed the Surface and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority Act, thereby abolishing SUMATRA, formerly the regulator of both land and marine transport sectors.

LATRA is tasked with the regulation of the land transport sector; particularly road, railway and cable transport. The marine transport sector is now independently regulated by the Tanzania Shipping Agencies Corporation (TASAC).

Road and rail are the most common methods of transport for cargo and passengers in Tanzania. The cable transport system is a niche sector with very limited application in Tanzania for cargo transport and tourism.

Powers and functions of LATRA

As the regulator of land transport in Tanzania, LATRA is charged with the performance of the following functions:

  • issuance, renewal and cancelation of permits and licences as well as certification of crew and drivers in public transport;
  • dispute resolution and complaints handling for stakeholders in the land transport sector;
  • establishing standards and certification of roadworthiness of vehicles as well as coordination of safety activities;
  • monitoring of performance in levels of investment, quality and standard of services, and costs of public services for the land transport sector; and
  • general protection of consumers of the public transport sector.

The Act and its subsidiary legislation vest LATRA with a wide range of powers to discharge its functions as a regulator. For instance, LATRA is vested with the power to:

  • review and set rates and charges;
  • impose fines and sanctions on regulated persons or entities who contravene LATRA legislation;
  • demand and obtain information, documents and all forms of evidence where it is of the view that such information may be of assistance to its functions;
  • impose levies on regulated persons and sectors in order to generate revenue; and
  • hold an inquiry before exercising its power to grant, renew, suspend or cancel a licence and before making any decision on issues that are competitive in nature.  

LATRA now plays a significant role in the regulation of road transport. Its regulatory mandate extends to issuing licences and certification to stakeholders participating in the sector, as well as enforcing compliance with the existing regulations. Much of the road transport sector in Tanzania is operated by private entities or individuals, hence the importance of regulation to ensure that consumer interests are protected against the risks of an unregulated industry.

In the railway transport sector, LATRA's role is limited to safety and security. This is likely due to the existence of specific railway legislation, which already includes regulatory mechanisms, and the fact that the Government has historically been the major stakeholder in the railway sector.

Licences issued by LATRA to regulated persons

LATRA is mandated to issue the following licences and certifications:

  • carrier licences to operators of vehicles used for cargo transport;
  • road service licences to operators of vehicles used for public passenger transport;
  • private hire licences to motor cycles, taxi cabs, and private cars used for commercial services – this includes the conventional means of private hire vehicles like bodaboda taxis and car rentals;
  • private hire licences to ride hailing and ride sharing operators and service providers – this includes the recent forms of vehicle hiring through the use of mobile applications such as Uber and Bolt;
  • certification of train drivers and train crew; and
  • certification of drivers and crew for commercial public transport vehicles.

Dispute resolution

The Act establishes a mechanism for handling complaints and resolving disputes arising between suppliers of services regulated by LATRA and consumers or third parties. For example, where an operator (transporter) fails to resolve a consumer’s (passenger’s) complaint, the consumer can then refer the matter to LATRA’s complaints handling mechanism in order to resolve the dispute.

To handle complaints and resolve disputes amicably, LATRA investigates the matter and submits its recommendations to the LATRA Board which determines the matter and issues a decision within a prescribed time. Where any party is aggrieved by the decision of the LATRA Board in relation to a dispute referred to LATRA, such party has a right to appeal to the Fair Competition Tribunal.

Our Tanzania team can support you on various aspects of the land transport sector in Tanzania, including providing support during engagements with LATRA in relation to licensing or regulatory issues, as well as the dispute resolution process. For more information, please contact any of the authors listed below.

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