Lesotho Freight to be privatised

Lesotho Freight to be privatised

MASERU – THE government will soon privatise the loss-making Lesotho Freight and Bus Service Corporation (LFBSC), thepost heard this week.
The principal secretary for the Ministry of Transport, Thabo Motoko, told thepost in an exclusive interview that the bus company was in financial doldrums.
He said the problems could see the company eventually shutting down unless the government intervened.

Motoko said problems for the company began after it bought 20 buses in 2008 in response to a taxi operators’ strike.
He said the decision was made without considering Lesotho’s economic and topographical factors.
The Lesotho Freight and Bus Service Corporation is a parastatal that was set up to help provide transport services to Basotho in remote areas. The bus fares were heavily subsidised.
The decision to buy the buses followed a strike by taxi operators in 2008 which paralysed business operations in Maseru. The government then bought 20 buses to transport workers.
There were already 13 buses in operation which took the total fleet to 33.

Motoko said the buses were bought without considering critical issues such as the topography of the country.
He said Lesotho is a mountainous country with challenging terrain and poor infrastructure.
Motoko said the buses came with a full package of drivers and conductors. He said more crews were added which included the drivers, two conductors on each bus and at least four inspectors on each route.

All these people depended on the revenue generated by those buses for their survival, Motoko said.
He said only two buses are still in operation with 56 employees who have not been paid since May this year.
Motoko said amongst the 33 buses, seven are a complete write off while seven others could still be repaired.
Faced with a growing crisis, the government sought ways to save the company.

He said bailing out the corporation was another option that the ministry was mulling.
In the meantime, the corporation has to pay the workers, pay its debts and raise funds for its daily operations before it could be privatized.
Motoko said another option was to repair the seven buses and pay the workers or the corporation be privatised.

Motoko said they dragged the matter to the Cabinet and the decision was that the corporation be bailed out with M5 million.
This was reached so as to pay the workers and any other outstanding balances for the corporation, he said.

Motoko said the government is yet to establish a committee consisting of ministers which will deal with the corporation’s woes.
He said they are also going to choose a board which will be an overseer of the functions of the corporation.
The LFBSC currently does not have a board.

Motoko argued that the corporation has been seriously mismanaged which pushed it into the doldrums.
He said they were stunned to find out that the company was not audited over the years.

Refiloe Mpobole

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