TAXI OWNERS IN OPERATION TO STOP PIRATE VEHICLES

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Mamello Mosaefane

Taxi owners have taken it upon themselves this festive season to end pirating by unregistered vehicles and private cars who loot passengers using public transport.

Maseru Region Transport Operators (MRTO) spokesperson, Lebohang Moea said they form road blocks in search of private cars that illegally transport passengers.

This is a move that has not sat well with many private car owners who consider it harassment and say it is conducted in a seemingly rude manner. The taxi owners are often seen in popular areas around Maseru.

Responding to these allegations, Moea said it is a shame that the road blocks are conducted in an offensive manner as the intention is to make it a peaceful operation meant to put the taxi industry in order.
He added that taxi owners get permission from the nearest police to hold the operations.

“We get permission from the nearest police to operate; hence the police sometimes join us to fight the pirate issue. However, we sometimes go on our own when the police are engaged elsewhere and cannot join us.” said Moea.

According to Moea, the roadblocks are a way of “policing” the business as community police “Mahokela” do in their respective villages.

Honda Fit vehicles are said to be the most notorious of pirating passengers as well as government cars, which Moea says they mostly battle with.

These road blocks are however suspected to be creating a gap for taxi owners to solicit bribes alongside some police officers who are taxi owners.

Moea has however condemned these actions, emphasizing that serious disciplinary actions will be taken for such people if caught, indicating they bring shame to the operation that has to be transparent.

He claimed “I am currently not aware of such actions involving taxi owners, I am only aware of police officers who take bribes from pirate cars for their continued illegal operations in taxi ranks they create themselves”.

Police spokesperson, Superintendent Mpiti Mopeli on the other hand slammed taxi owners for holding illegal road blocks citing “It is the police’s job to hold road blocks”.

Mopeli further added that pirating is a serious issue that involves a number of stakeholders, not taxi owners taking the law into their own hands.

“Pirating alone is illegal, and so are these road blocks by taxi owners. What they are doing is basically fighting crime by crime.” Mopeli said.

According to him, there should be a meeting with the taxi owners to find a lasting solution to the matter that is within the law.

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