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Taxi operators clash with govt


Ntsoaki Motaung

A storm is brewing in the public transportation sector as taxi operators clash with the Ministry of Transport over the implementation of new perimeter regulations.

Chairman Mokete Jonase of the LTOA this week launched a blistering attack on the ministry, accusing them of blindsiding transport owners with the sudden announcement of new 4+1 taxis perimeters.

The crux of the conflict lies in the ministry’s alleged unilateral decision to introduce new 4+1 taxis perimeter regulations without prior consultation with transport owners.

“The Ministry is at it again,” Jonase fumed, “making decisions that affect us without consulting us first. This is unacceptable.”

Speaking exclusively to Newsday, he expressed shock and dismay at the ministry’s actions, stressing the lack of consultation with transport owners.

“We were still in talks with the Ministry, and suddenly, we wake up to a notice announcing the implementation of new perimeters. We were completely blindsided,” he said.

The Ministry of Transport has issued a public notice informing citizens about the impending implementation of the new 4+1 taxis perimeters, set to commence on March 22.

“We are surprised by the notice because we understand that we are still in talks with the ministry and not in a stage of implementation. We have a clear stand on how we want the new perimeters implemented and we were still talking with the ministry. However, we woke up to a notice and we were not told anything that the ministry will go ahead despite the ongoing discussions,” said Jonase.

In their notice, the ministry indicated that the expansion of perimeters for local transport is aimed at resolving quarrels between the 4+1 taxis drivers and 15-seater taxi drivers which have been ongoing.

The ministry notified the public that the implementation will start as a pilot in the Maseru district first before it can be spread to other districts.

The notable shift in policy was announced on January 15 by Traffic Commissioner Mathabo Tšosane.

According to Tšosane, this change diverges from the 10-kilometer radius stipulated in the 1996 Road Transport Act, and will now enable 4+1 taxis to serve within urban and city council boundaries.

Explaining the rationale behind this decision, Tšosane stated: “There were several challenges presented by the 10 kilometers radius, including failure to provide passengers with safe and convenient transport, hence the decision was reached.”

She affirmed that this adjustment complies with existing transport laws and policies.

Last week Newsday reported that the anticipated implementation of new parameters for local transport operators, initially set for the end of last month (February), faced an indefinite postponement.

This development unfolded after Minister of Public Works and Transport, Matjato Moteane, informed a parliamentary committee about the scheduled implementation for the end of February.

During the parliamentary session, Moteane conveyed that the decision to enforce the parameters by the end of February stemmed from discussions with transport operators.

However, upon inquiry by Newsday, it was disclosed that certain ongoing processes were yet to be concluded. Once these processes were finalized, the new parameters would be implemented.

Ntumeleng Ntshekhe, the public relations officer for the Ministry of Public Works and Transport, clarified that although the new parameters were not implemented by the end of February as indicated by the minister, “they will be implemented soon.”

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