Taxi Operators on strike

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  • Demands to carry full passenger number amid Covid-19 regulations
  • Or be subsidized for obeying the social distancing imposed on public transportation

Matiisetso Mosala

Today, commuters were left stranded without any transportation as the Maseru Region Taxi Operators went on a stay-away this morning.

The taxi operators are according to their spokesperson Lebohang Moea mounting pressure on Lesotho’s newly appointed Prime Minister Moeketsi Majoro’s government to loosen COVID-19 regulations limiting number of passengers allowed on public transportation or provide subsidies to the industry.

Moea said they have resorted to withhold provision of transportation into the city of Maseru and major towns due to government’s inability to address their grievances.

Moea, in an interview said the Public Health (COVID-19) Regulations 2020 restriction passengers allowed on public transport have hit the transport industry extremely hard as they only can transport limited number of passengers across the different modes.

“We want to be subsidized for the loss that we are incurring in transporting a limited number of people.

“If the Ministry of Transport cannot grant this then we want to be allowed to carry our licensed number of passengers,” Moea said.

Moea said they would suspend their stay-away on Saturday and Sunday and resume from Monday June 1 until Tuesday June 2.

He said meetings with the Transport regulating authorities have thus far been fruitless.

“We went on strike in March in an effort to get the ministry to act on 4+1 cabs that pirate as registered taxis as they have become a threat to legally operating taxis.

“A task team of Ministers was formed to deal with the matter but they have not come close to solving this problem,” Moea said.

Moea said transport operators argue the only precautionary measures for Covid-19 social distancing is only being enforced on their industry while crowded numbers of people can be seen in supermarkets, night clubs, bars, churches without any restrictions.

Since the COVID-19 lockdown, members of the Lesotho Mounted Police Service’s Traffic Department are always seen across major towns with roadblocks to ensure adherence to the correct number of passengers transported as stipulated by the Public Health regulations.

Police Spokesperson has also publicized some cases where taxi drivers have been arrested for failure to adhere to these regulations.

KDNews has established that amid the stay-away negotiations between the taxi operators and ministry are ongoing and the Minister of Public Works and Transport has since informed the taxi operators their demands would be reported to Prime Minister Major’s cabinet.

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