Taxi oper­a­tors walk out on min­is­ter

Lesotho Times - - News - Mot­samai Mokotjo

Dis­grun­tled taxi oper­a­tors yes­ter­day walked out of a meet­ing called by Pub­lic Works and trans­port Min­is­ter tšoeu Mok­eretla.

the min­is­ter had also in­vited the me­dia to the gath­er­ing to re­spond to pe­ti­tions the oper­a­tors handed to govern­ment on tues­day last week.

Mem­bers of the Maseru re­gion trans­port Oper­a­tors (Mrto), Me­jamet­a­lane trans­port Oper­a­tors, star­ring Com­mit­tee, south and north re­gions taxi As­so­ci­a­tions and Bocha­bela trans­port Op­er­a­tion re­gion pe­ti­tioned Po­lice Min­is­ter Monyane Moleleki, Fi­nance Min­is­ter ‘ Mam­phono Khaketla and Mr Mok­eretla last week out­lin­ing sev­eral com­plaints they wanted ad­dressed within seven days.

the griev­ances ranged from al­leged ha­rass­ment of taxi driv­ers by the po­lice and govern­ment’s de­ci­sion to award a six-month fleet sup­ply and main­te­nance con­tract to south African car-hire com­pany Bid­vest last month “at the ex­pense of Ba­sotho busi­nesses”.

How­ever, the min­is­ter’s de­ci­sion not to meet the oper­a­tors in pri­vate first be­fore invit­ing the me­dia, was met with anger and dis­be­lief yes­ter­day, lead­ing to the walk­out.

the leader of the oper­a­tors, Mathe Kha­lane, raised a point of or­der when the Min­istry’s Prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary, ‘Maler­ato Khoeli, was an­nounc­ing the pur­pose of the meet­ing. the meet­ing had been called for the min­istry’s head­quar­ters.

“We are sur­prised that the me­dia is here in this meet­ing when we are sup­posed to be talk­ing about our pe­ti­tion. We were never called to dis­cuss our con­cerns. Our un­der­stand­ing is that we agreed not to in­volve the me­dia; we agreed that we would only call them when our dis­cus­sions were done. Our ques­tion is if we are go­ing to get an an­swer, is it right that we re­ceive it in the pres­ence of the me­dia?” asked Mr Kha­lane.

“if this is what the min­istry has de­cided to do, then we are not go­ing to be party to this meet­ing.”

in re­sponse, Mr Mok­eretla said the re­ply was not go­ing to be de­tailed hence the me­dia’s in­vi­ta­tion.

“We have noted two ma­jor is­sues: firstly, when you is­sued the pe­ti­tions, you gave a dead­line of seven days for a re­sponse. We un­der­stood the need to re­spect the time you gave us, and if we failed to meet the dead­line, it would be a sign of dis­re­spect, and we did not want to do that.

“se­condly, we are not go­ing to get into the finer de­tails of your pe­ti­tion in this meet­ing; we just want to say here is what we have and then chart the way for­ward in con­sul­ta­tion with you.

“the plan was for us to meet af­ter this meet­ing and then dis­cuss your con­cerns in de­tail,” said the min­is­ter.

As for the me­dia, Mr Mok­eretla said he did not see any­thing wrong with the re­porters’ pres­ence as they were also present when the pe­ti­tions were sub­mit­ted to govern­ment.

“the me­dia should be around and be wit­nesses that within seven days, we asked you to come, your is­sue was ac­cepted and we promised to an­swer you,” he said.

“We are not say­ing the me­dia should get in­volved, but if you say you don’t want them, then it is fine with us. But they are only here as ob­servers.”

Pub­lic Works and trans­port Dep- uty Min­is­ter Mokhele Mo­let­sane also weighed in on the dis­cus­sion and blamed the oper­a­tors for in­volv­ing the me­dia when they sub­mit­ted their pe­ti­tions.

Mr Mo­let­sane noted: “You were in­vited here af­ter your pub­lic out­cry. that is not the usual way we used to ad­dress such is­sues. ntate Kha­lane and Mokete Jonase (Mrto pres­i­dent) would write let­ters to the min­is­ter and we would have our meet­ing in pri­vate.

“it is now dif­fer­ent be­cause you went out in pub­lic and the me­dia was present. We thought it only fair for those who were present when you handed in the pe­ti­tions to be here to­day.”

Af­ter this ad­dress, Mr Kha­lane asked for a break and went out with other rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the taxi oper­a­tors. On their re­turn five min­utes later, star­ring Com­mit­tee ex­ec­u­tive mem­ber, Bataung thulo an­nounced the oper­a­tors had de­cided to leave.

“to­day we take it that you are also pe­ti­tion­ing us be­cause you have called the me­dia. You are not giv­ing us what we want.

“When we wrote you that pe­ti­tion, it was not de­tailed. We just put points which needed to be ad­dressed. We take what you have done to­day as an in­jus­tice to us,” said Mr thulo.

Mean­while, Mrto Pub­lic re­la­tions Of­fi­cer, Le­bo­hang Moea, yes­ter­day told the Le­sotho Times that the oper­a­tors would meet on tues­day next week to dis­cuss yes­ter­day’s ac­tions by the Pub­lic Works and trans­port min­istry.

“We still need an­swers from the min­is­ter. He should have called us first, dis­cuss the is­sue and then in­vite the me­dia later af­ter we had agreed on the way for­ward,” Mr Moea said.

THE taxi oper­a­tors on there way to pe­ti­tion govern­ment on Tues­day last week.

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