How does public transport work in an African city under neoliberalism? Who owns what in it? Who has the power to influence its shape and changes in it over time? What does it mean to be a precarious and informal worker in the private minibuses that provide public transport in Dar es Salaam? These are the main questions that inform this in-depth case study of Dar es Salaam's public transport system over more than forty years. The growth of cities and informal economies are two central manifestations of globalization in the developing world. Taken for a Ride addresses both, drawing on long-term fieldwork in Dar es Salaam (Tanzania) and charting its public transport system's journey from public to private provision. This new addition to the Critical Frontiers of Theory, Research and Practice in International Development Studies series investigates this shift alongside the increasing deregulation ofthe sector and the resulting chaotic modality of public transport. It reviews state attempts to regain control over public transport and documents how informal wage relations prevailed in the sector. The changing political attitude of workers towards employers and the state is investigated: from an initial incapacityto respond to exploitation, to the political organisation and unionisation which won workers concessions on labour rights. A longitudinal study of workers throws light on patterns of occupational mobility in the sector, and the political and economic interests that shaped the introduction of Bus Rapid Transit in Dar es Salaam, and local resistance to it are analysed. Taken for a Ride reveals the political economy of public transport, exposing the limitations of market fundamentalist and post-colonial scholarship on economic informality, the urban experience in developing countries, and the failure to locate the agency of the urban poor within their economic and political structures. It is both a contribution and a call for the contextualised study of 'actually existing neoliberalism'.
Taken For A Ride
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