March 15, 2022
Maseru-Public transport operators under the auspices of the Lesotho Taxi Operators Association, have threatened to go on a nationwide strike if the government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Transport does no accede to their wishes of hiked fees.
The owners, as they are usually called, are calling for a 30% increase in taxi fares effective from the beginning of April.
Chairman of the association Mokete Jonase, told the media earlier today, that their decision came as a result of a lot of failed attempts to have conversation between themselves and the Ministry of Transport.
He indicated that taxi operators have a number of grievances that include, failure to implement the agreement they signed with the ministry in 2015, relief during the Covid-19 crisis as well as hiked public transport fees.
â€œThe ministry has agreed to deal with cross-border issues, it had also agreed to see to it that there is a structure that guides the operations of the public transport business in the country,â€ he said, he said adding that they have already written to the Minister Bataung Thulo as well as the transport board.
He indicated, howevr, that they are yet to go to their members to seek way forward on which day they are to stage their industrial action â€œâ€¦but the days we are targeting are between the 22nd and the 25th of March because we have heard that the country is hosting some summit on those dates though we do not have all the details. We are planning to disrupt that summit so that the international community can see the kind of country we haveâ€.
In their letter, the operators bemoan increased prices of commodities inclusive of fuel which has sky-rocketed in recent times a feat which has been attributed inter alia to the ongoing European war between Russia and Ukraine.
â€œLeaders of taxi operators from North, South and Central Region we write to inform you that the ministry of Transport failed to hold talks or work on taxi operatorsâ€™ grievances that you have directed the Principal Secretary (PS) to work on. If there no action you take within seven days, you will leave us with no option but to back on strike,â€ reads their letter to the Minister.
To the board they write: â€œLeaders of taxi operators from North, South and Central Region we inform the board that taxi operators demand that taxi fares be increased with nothing less than 30% effective from 1st of April. This is caused by the increase of prices in fuel prices as well as the decline in economyâ€.
Approached for a comment, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Ministry Ntumeleng NtÅ¡ekhe told this publication that for now the Ministry will not say anything on the issue until Friday. â€œThere is already a meeting set up by the Ministry with taxi operators for Friday where they will be given answers to their grievances,â€ she said.