SEKHONYANA THEKO and
MASERU – The stand-off between taxi operators and government, leading into this week’s protest action by the operators, leaving commuters stranded, has been quelled.
This after swift intervention by a team of cabinet ministers and legislators who settled for a tête-à-tête with the Maseru Regional Taxi Operators (MRTO) in Maseru yesterday, an effort that has eased the nerves of many Basotho who commute to work to eke out a living.
Taxi operators in the country, especially in Maseru, have incessantly voiced their frustration on several issues that are affecting the operations of taxis, notable among them being the current trend of taxi piracy, which they say pushes them out of business.
According to one taxi owner who spoke to Public Eye on the sidelines of the talks between government and the operators, the taxi owners were ready to ground their vehicles because the list of grievances highlighting numerous challenges were tabled before government with respect to their operations but government failed to handle them.
And it was not until the taxi operators decided to embark on a protest action that government agreed to step in and resolve two among their countless obstacles, namely; taxi piracy and the minimal increment of transport fares. A taxi owner the paper spoke to indicated that “the influx of these pirate taxis into the system stemmed up from the government’s inability to utilise its relevant organs to function properly.”
He described as unfortunate the sad reality that senior government officials who wielded power in cabinet as well as within the security agencies were perpetrators of this lawlessness brought about by illegal taxis.
A ministerial team comprising transport minister Keketso Sello, finance minister Moeketsi Majoro, law minister Habofanoe Lehasa, police minister Lehlohonolo Moramotse and Motimposo constituency Member of Parliament Thabang Mafojane met with the MRTO at Qhobosheaneng yesterday and later announced the protest action by the taxi owners had been halted.
Speaking to the press at media conference after the cabinet team’s meeting Sello said government and the MRTO will embark on campaigns to root out pirate taxis from national routes. “Every Mosotho is entitled to operate a business, but through legal steps as we have legislation governing traffic and transport,” he said.