Dead­lock as taxi own­ers dig in on fare hike

Sunday Express - - FRONT PAGE - ’Marafaele Mohloboli

TALKS be­tween the Min­istry of Trans­port and taxi own­ers broke down on Wed­nes­day after the two par­ties failed to agree on the agenda.

The Min­is­ter of Trans­port and Works, Prince Maliehe, had called for the talks in an ef­fort to reach an agree­ment over the pro­posed taxi fare in­creases which have set the two par­ties on a col­li­sion course.

The taxi own­ers have given notice that they will in­crease lo­cal com­muter fares from M6.50 to M15 on 1 June 2018.

How­ever, the gov­ern­ment has warned that the move is il­le­gal as the Traf­fic Board is the only body that is legally em­pow­ered to ef­fect any in­creases.

One of the lead­ers of the taxi as­so­ci­a­tion, Mathe Kha­lane said they were dis­ap­pointed by the non-ap­pear­ance of Mr Maliehe de­spite the fact that he had called the meet­ing.

Mr Kha­lane said they were “shocked and dis­ap­pointed that after be­ing called by the min­is­ter,” they were only to be ad­dressed by his deputy, Ts’ehlo Ra­marou in the ab­sence of the Traf­fic Board.

“What was even more ap­palling was the fact that the agenda was ac­tu­ally about cross bor­der is­sues.”

Mr Kha­lane said he sub­se­quently pro­posed that the meet­ing be aborted as “it was not well planned and would there­fore be fruit­less”.

Last week the taxi own­ers an­nounced that they will hike fares to M15 and the move was im­me­di­ately branded “un­law­ful” by the gov­ern­ment.

“Ac­cord­ing to the Le­gal Notice No. 129 of 2004 Road Trans­port Reg­u­la­tions, the Traf­fic Board is the only body with pow­ers to in­crease the fares, not the taxi own­ers,” said the Prin­ci­pal Sec­re­tary of the min­istry of Trans­port and Works, Motha­bathe Hlalele.

“No com­muter should pay the sug­gested fare un­til the Traf­fic Board has ap­proved them.

“It is quite sur­pris­ing that to­day the same taxi own­ers who used to say that there was no rule of law in Le­sotho and got in­volved in demon­stra­tions, are sud­denly the ones who are will­ing to break the very law and raise fares against the reg­u­la­tions.

“If they hike the tar­iffs uni­lat­er­ally, they will be com­mit­ting an of­fence be­cause the reg­u­la­tions are very clear that there has to be a board seat­ing, and all sec­tors should be taken into con­sid­er­a­tion,” Mr Hlalele said.

How­ever, the taxi op­er­a­tors are dig­ging in with Mr Kha­lane telling the Sun­day Ex­press that “our de­ci­sion is fi­nal”.

“We are ready to en­gage the gov­ern­ment only if they will al­low us to raise the tar­iffs higher than the pro­posed M15. Be­sides that, we are un­shake­able that as of 1 June, the lo­cal taxi fare shall be M15. Oth­er­wise we are ready to go to the courts of law,” Mr Kha­lane said, adding the hike was jus­ti­fied on the ba­sis that the last times they in­creased fares was in 2012.

“We will in­crease the fares with or with­out the ap­proval of the min­istry and the board. All prices are be­ing in­creased in other sec­tors so why not in the taxi in­dus­try?

“We also want the Traf­fic Board dis­solved as it does not serve us as we are of­ten out­voted in the de­ci­sion-mak­ing process.

“We have been talk­ing to the gov­ern­ment for the past five years through the board and it has failed us dis­mally.”

How­ever, Mr Hlalele in­sisted that the taxi op­er­a­tors were part of the Traf­fic Board and such await its de­ci­sion.

TAXI own­ers have given notice that they will in­crease lo­cal com­muter fares from M6.50 to M15 on 1 June 2018.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Lesotho

© PressReader. All rights reserved.