MASERU — A private transport company has filed an urgent application in the High Court seeking an order to bar the Maseru City Council (MCC) from collecting levies from traders at the Manonyane Bus Stop area.
The Lesotho Public Motor Transport Company (Pty) Ltd (LPMTC) submitted in its application that the main bus station in Maseru belonged to them.
The LPMTC argues that the Maseru council should be barred from collecting rentals from traders and street vendors operating in the area.
The LPMTC is joined in the application by its parent company, the Lesotho Bus and Taxi Owners Association (LBTOA).
The LPMTC also wants the High Court to interdict the city council from presenting itself as the owners of the bus stop area.
It also wants all demarcations of land in dispute and all titles and rights attached to them declared null and void.
The company also wants the MCC to refund all levies it has collected from the traders “without the due process of the law”.
The LBTOA’s trustee who holds the association’s shares in the LPMTC, Ishmael Monare, told the court in his affidavit that there is a lease showing that the bus stop area belonged to his company.
“It is apposite to mention that in the lease itself, it has been spelled out that the lease includes the bus station not covered by the dimensions of the area designated for operations of the first applicant (LPMTC),” says Monare in the affidavit.
“The Maseru City Council has for some sophistry reasons held itself to be the owners of rights to the Manonyane Bus Stop and has even authorised construction of public latrines or toilets thereat to the benefit of a certain private individual and they are being rented,” he says.
“The municipality has authorised construction of toilets for its own benefit at applicant’s place without consent of the rightful owners and is reaping the profits exclusively to itself and to the business inconvenience of the title holders.”
The LPMTC also wants the MCC interdicted “from interfering with applicants’ commercial site in any manner”.
“It is apposite also to show that even the traders carrying their business thereat have sought and obtained permission to transact business they are doing from the personnel of the Maseru City Council which in turn is benefiting from the levies it charges them,” Monare argues.
Local Government Minister Pontšo Sekatle, who is bestowed with powers to oversee the allocation of land, is cited as the second respondent.
The Commissioner of Lands is cited as the third respondent while the Disaster Management Authority and the Committee of Traders at Manonyane Bus Stop are cited as the fourth and fifth respondent respectively.
The Ministry of Tourism and the Attorney General have also been cited as respondents.
“It is the standard practice of the Disaster Management Authority to survey the relevant areas and identify suitable sites for storage of hazardous gases under strict control and management as a preventative measure to establish a state of preparedness to deal with any eventualities which may arise,” says Monare in the court papers.
“The above alluded duty of the Disaster Management Authority is also intertwined with that of the municipality to inspect and ensure safety and security of the trading areas in the reserve areas,” he adds.
Monare argues that the situation at the bus stop area where traders sold cylinder gases was hazardous to the public.
“Keeping of hazardous gases like cylinder gases in the bus stop is a major element creating disastrous situations at the place of applicants and deviates drastically to the commercial ends for which the plot is purposed as a bus station.”
“The Maseru City Council has authorised varied trades at the bus stop including beer selling, gases and foodstuffs and informal restaurants without meeting minimum standard requirements decreed for suitability of those varied trades by the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture and is benefitting out of that set-up,” the LPMTC submits.
The High Court is still to set a date to hear the case.