Taxi operators want M15 fares

Taxi operators want M15 fares

MASERU – Commuters should brace themselves for more pain as taxi operators planning to increase the taxi fare to M15.
That’s a whopping 128 percent hike that, if approved, will send commuters reeling.
Consumers are already smarting after the government increased Value Added Tax this month. This is in addition to the galloping prices of basic commodities at a time when wages have largely stagnated as companies struggled to remain in business.

Maseru Taxi Association (MTA)’s spokesman Makana Monese said they hope the Road Transport Board will find the M15 taxi fare within the 10 kilometres radius reasonable “because it is no longer easy to stay afloat in this industry”.
Monese said for years taxi fares have lagged behind maintenance and fuel costs. The result, Monese said, is that most operators are struggling to keep their cars on the road.

“How much we charge passengers does not correspond with the running costs,” Monese said.
“We now work with regions and we had meetings discussing the issue until we reached the conclusion to make it M15.”
Monese also said it’s been a while since they increased their prices.

“Unless the government will convince us otherwise, the taxi fare locally should be increased to M15,” he added.
The Road Transport Board is made up of representatives of government, consumers and transport operators.
Its previous decisions have been met with the howls of protest from taxi operators who think the board favours commuters.
The proposed fare hike is likely to be hotly contested.

But other taxi associations are more realistic, saying they know that M15 might be a hard-sell.
Maseru Star Taxi Association spokesman, Motsie Motsie, said they were looking for some form of increase because “life is more expensive lately”.
“But we will not dream M15. We just want an increment, that is all,” he said.

Motsie said even if they hike the prices by M2 they will be happy because they know that “a M15 increase is impossible”.
“We want to increase prices particularly because our car parts and life itself are now expensive,” Motsie said.
Lithabaneng Taxi Association’s Teboho Setsomi said they want an increase that takes into account the economic reality of Lesotho.
“We cannot say we want M15 because not every Mosotho will afford to pay that much,” he said.

Setsomi said while their main goal is profit they also have to think about customers.
“Even if we can make it M7 that will be okay for us, not M15. There are no jobs in Lesotho and we have to think about students too as they will not afford to pay M30 return every day when they go to and from schools,” Setsomi said.

The Independent Democratic Unions of Lesotho (IDUL), with the majority of members coming from textile factories, have raised concerns with the proposed taxi fare increment. The trade unions said it will be a blow to their members whose wages are not enough even to sustain them for a month.

Nkheli Liphoto

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