Taxi operators strike

Taxi operators strike

MASERU-TAXI operators in Maseru say they will pull their vehicles off the roads to protest against what they say are the government’s stringent lockdown regulations.

The operators are furious over the restrictions on the number of passengers they are allowed to carry.
According to the lockdown rules a sedan must carry three passengers instead of the usual four. A 15-seater minibus is now allowed nine passengers.

Lebohang Moea, the Maseru Region Taxi Operators (MRTO) spokesman, said the strike is meant to force the government to lift the restrictions.
The strike, Moea said, will continue tomorrow.
“This means there will be no public transport on Thursday and tomorrow,” Moea said.

The taxis will be back on the roads on the weekend but the strike will resume on Monday and Tuesday.
Moea said the taxi operators are also angry that the government had increased number plate fees from M90 to M400.
Registration renewal has also been increased from M130 to M500.
He said they are disappointed that this is happening at a time when their businesses have suffered huge losses because of the lockdown restrictions.
The MRTO deputy chairman Teboho Kahlolo said the government had ignored their concerns for weeks.

He said the government “has opened bars but just do not want to normalise the public transport”.
“The government acts like people will only be infected in public transport. They are saying nothing about shops where people do not observe social distancing”.

“We held meetings with officials but to no avail,” he said, adding that their only option is to park their vehicles until the government is ready to negotiate.

“In a democracy we have a right to down tools when we are dissatisfied.”
He also said they have drivers and their assistants who are paid monthly and families to support “but the government did not help us on that”.
He said they tried talking to the government on helping the public transport sector but “they chose to help Chinese investors who do not benefit this country”.

“We will see if by the weekend the government will not sit down with us to negotiate,” he said, adding that if not “next week Monday we are not working again”.

Staff Reporter

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