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Motorists mull mother-of-all taxi strike

A taxi filling up at petrol filling station for a trip in Lesotho

Oct. 17, 2020 3 min read

In a petition that has drawn sympathy and backing of private motorists across Lesotho, the Maseru Region Taxi Operators (MRTO) has threatened to embark on a stay-away that is planned to run for seven days beginning on Wednesday, October 20.

The decision for national stay away comes after a call from different sectors of society for abolishment of Mobile Court scorned as ‘Imp’ that rules Lesotho’s disorderly roads.

Among their grievances, taxi operators complain that the Mobile Court is unfair administration of justice as suspects are not given fair hearing and fair time to prepare for their cases therefore “it must be abolished”.

According to the government the Mobile Court was established to relieve the courts of numerous minor offences such as traffic offences that cause backlog for more serious criminal cases that need to be handled on time.

The MRTO Chairman Mokete Jonase, said that they had talked to relevant ministers but did not receive a satisfying reply hence they were planning the stay away as a way to express the significance of their grievances. He said they have further written to Prime Minister Dr Moeketsi Majoro, Minister of Transport Lebohang Monaheng and of Minister of Law Professor Nqosa Mahao, who were given ultimatum to solve ‘the problems’ by Tuesday October 19, failing which their stay-away would kick off the following day.


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“Since the Mobile Court was introduced, we have not been able to make profits on a daily basis because the fines the court imposes on motorists are ridiculous, especially at this era of Covid-19 pandemic which has left every business struggling to re-establish itself. We understand and acknowledge the fact that vehicles should be roadworthy so to protect lives and property against accidents, but our stance is that; the fines must be reasonable and acceptable to avoid destroying the business,” remarked Mokate Komaki who is also a taxi operator in Maseru.

However, some commuters are of the opinion that while taxi operators have a right to demonstrate their discontent, it must be noted that other sectors will feel the pinch of the strike.

“The government authorities should quickly address the situation because we don’t want to see what happened in March repeat itself. For three days we arrived at our different working stations late because we had to walk extended distances. Our children were not able to go to school as we feared putting their lives in danger. The government must note that strikes do not affect only the movement of the public but the economy as well because some people do not show up at work while others arrive late,” expressed Samuel Sefabali from Khubeli in Maseru.

On the other hand, operators have shown that while they admit to the dangers of the Coronavirus pandemic, they demand relief packages from the government just like other sectors that have been hard hit by the lockdown rules.

Under the current regulations, different sectors of public transport are not allowed to run at full loading capacity during this period, thus losing huge sums of revenue on a daily basis, they said.

According to the association, the next stay-away projected to be of national level, will be the largest following the one the latter displayed early this year in March, when operators demanded the government to facilitate removal of unauthorised vehicles that were operating within their routes as public transport.

At the time, scores of commuters living in villages around Maseru were forced to walk to town because local taxis failed to show up to transport them due to the stay-away that lasted for three days.

During the picketing that was staged at several places including at Khubetsoana, Borokhoaneng and Ha Matala, taxi operators and drivers allegedly burnt car tyres in the road, obstructing the flow of traffic.

Police armed with tear gas guns and water cannons had to intervene to bring the situation under control and some people reportedly got hurt in the process, after getting into a scuffle with the officers.

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