Row over new perimeters for 4+1 taxis


MASERU – The public transportation sector finds itself in turmoil as taxi operators clash with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport over new perimeter regulations. According to Mokete Jonase, Chairman of the Lesotho Taxi Operators’ Association (LTOA), this conflict arises from the ministry’s sudden introduction of new 4+1 taxi perimeters without consulting transport owners, leading to accusations of unilateral decision-making.

Jonase criticised the ministry for making decisions that impact transport owners without prior consultation, deeming it unacceptable and expressing shock and dismay at the lack of communication. The Ministry of Transport recently released a public announcement regarding the upcoming introduction of the new 4+1 taxi perimeters, scheduled to begin on March 22. This expansion aims to address long-standing disputes between 4+1 taxi drivers and 15-seater taxi drivers.

The ministry has stated that the implementation will initially be piloted in the Maseru district before being extended to other districts. Jonase said they were still in talks with the ministry when the ministry suddenly released a notice announcing the implementation of new perimeters. “This was a sudden shock,” he said, adding that they did not expect the ministry to make decisions for them without consulting them.

He continued: “We have a clear stance on how we want the new perimeters implemented, and we were still in discussions with the ministry. “However, we woke up to a notice, and we were not informed that the ministry would proceed despite the ongoing discussions.” Jonase emphasised their rejection of the ministry’s decision, citing that 4+1 taxis disrupt business for larger taxis once allowed to operate in the same areas.

“We will be convening a meeting where we expect the ministry to present minutes from our previous discussions to understand what prompted this sudden change,” he said. In January, Traffic Commissioner ’Mathabo Tšosane announced that 4+1 taxis would soon be able to ferry passengers beyond the 10km radius within the Maseru City Council (MCC) boundaries at a press conference. It was revealed that the Road Transport Board decided to amend condition number 8 of the Road Transport Regulations. Tšosane said this amendment was necessary due to the challenge posed by urban mobility, especially as Maseru city continues to expand. Similarly, Minister of Public Works and Transport, Matjato Moteane briefed a parliamentary committee on the planned implementation set for the end of February.

He said the expected introduction of new guidelines for local transport operators, originally scheduled for the end of last month, has been indefinitely delayed. Moteane said the decision to enforce the parameters by the end of February was based on consultations with transport operators. When interviewed, the majority of commuters expressed their approval of the ministry’s actions, as they believe that 4+1 taxis have made travelling more convenient. According to them, 15-seaters are less efficient as they take a long time to fill up, and often drivers refuse to depart until the vehicle is completely full, resulting in wasted time for passengers.

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