MASERU — The road transport board has approved taxi fare increases to be implemented starting on October 1. The fare hikes will see commuters pay one loti more to the usual M5 for the mini-buses and M5.50 for the taxi cab (4+1).
This means commuters will pay M6 for a ride on a mini-bus while cab users will now pay M6.50. The fares have also increased for long distance travellers. The new public transport fare increases will see commuters pay M115 for a 174km trip from Butha-Buthe to Mokhotlong on a minibus while larger buses will charge M76.60. A 345km trip from Maseru to Qacha’s Nek on a minibus will cost M207.
It will cost M113.50 for a 172km trip from Maseru to Thaba Tseka in a minibus and M87 when using a bus. Mosa Moseme-Mputsoe of the Road Transport Board in the Ministry of Public Works said these were the final fares set for public transport. The increase comes following a series of negotiations between government and taxi operators after the latter rejected the fare increases saying they were inadequate.
Taxi operators said the prices would not help them meet the required profits to keep business going. About two months ago the board had to withdraw a new fare list after taxi operators expressed dissatisfaction on the increment.
They also complained that they were not invited to be part of the decision making. However taxi operators said they will accept the new fares “for now” while negotiations are going on.
“We are not happy that the board has decided to implement the fares. But we will let them go ahead just so there is at least that small difference in the price. “To tell the truth the increase is far from enough,” said Lebohang Moea of the Maseru Region Transport Operators (MRTO). Moea said they were hoping the ongoing negotiations with government would lead to a more satisfactory increment.
However public transport users who spoke to this paper said the increment was more than enough. Motseki Sebusi who commutes daily from his home in Qoaling and the bus stop in Maseru where he is a vendor said taxi operator should accept the increment. “They don’t know what they want. I think it’s a fair price that they are getting. We are already finding it expensive as it is. Most of us cannot afford it now.”
“It is going to be tougher with M1 more,” Sebusi said. Thekiso Koro said he would have to walk to get home in Lithabaneng when the prices are increased. “It is going to be too much for me. I am not employed. I have to travel between home and town to get piece jobs.
“I might have to walk in order to save money,” Koro said.