MASERU — Police have arrested 15 taxi drivers and impounded their vehicles for operating without valid documents.
Most of the vehicles did not have permits and fitness certificates to carry passengers, the police said who added the yellow-bellied taxis were becoming a nuisance on the roads.
Police spokesperson Masupha Masupha said the drivers were nabbed in a joint operation by the police and taxi operators called Kopano ke Matla (Unity is Power).
“Police and taxi owners have launched Operation Kopano ke Matla targeting 4+1 (taxis) that are illegally operating on the roads,” Masupha said.
“We are looking for cars that do not have D permits, fitness permits and drivers who do not have driver’s licences yet ferry passengers on daily basis.”
Masupha added: “We have already received a tip-off about the cars and drivers who do not have proper documents and during the operation we do not just stop all the cars but those that appear on the list.”
Masupha said there are allegations that some 4+1 taxis “are owned by police officers so if they are found without proper documents they will all be taken regardless of who owns them.”
“Owners are also going to be charged as they have also committed a crime by giving people who do not have driver’s licences their cars,” Masupha said.
The police and taxi owners launched the operation after a two-week workshop where some of the issues that were discussed included fighting crime and reducing road accidents.
The workshop revealed that road accidents are mostly caused by ‘4+1’ drivers who do not have proper documents such as drivers’ licences.
Others are driving vehicles that are not roadworthy in addition to their driving without proper documents, Masupha said.
He said these cars were painted with the yellow paint which distinguishes a 4+1 from a private car but did not have D permits and fitness certificates.
“People who suffer are the passengers when accidents occur as these cars are not insured and people are not compensated by the Road Accident Fund,” he said.
“These cars are not properly registered.”
He said they are going to take finger prints of the guilty drivers so that when the law allows they will be blacklisted.
In January over 50 taxi drivers and operators were charged in the Maseru Magistrate’s Court for violating the Road Traffic Act.
The drivers were charged together with the owners of the taxis for allowing them to drive their taxis knowing well that they did not qualify.
Most of the drivers were charged for operating cars that were not roadworthy.
Many of them were sentenced to five months imprisonment or a fine of M500.
They were arrested during an operation code-named Operation Hlokohla which was meant to investigate vehicles that are not roadworthy and drivers who were driving without valid drivers’ licences.