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Taxi operators challenge new fares

’Marafaele Mohloboli

DISGRUNTLED taxi owners have vowed to take the government to court over the new taxi fares which were announced by the Transport Board on Wednesday.

This was said by the chairperson of the Maseru Regional Taxi Operators (MRTO), Mokete Jonas in an interview with the Sunday Express on Friday.

On Wednesday the Transport Board announced new taxi fares that will see the cost of a boarding a 4+1 taxi go up to M8 from M6,50 with effect from 1 August 2018. It will now cost M6 to board the minibus up from M6 and M5 for a bus. The taxi owners accuse the Transport minister, Prince Maliehe, of unilaterally approving the new fares.

The taxi owners have been angered by the about-turn of the government which had initially agreed with the taxi operators to increase the 4+1 fare to M10, the minibus to M9 and bus fare to M6, 50.

The two parties had agreed on the latter fares on 4 June this year before the government somersaulted the following day.  After the government’s about-turn, the taxi owners proposed that the 4+1 fare should be increased to M9 while that of the minibus went up to M8 and M6 for the bus.

However, the government went ahead and announced its own fare adjustments which fell short of the expectations of the taxi owners who have responded by threatening court action.

“We are going to court because we were not consulted when these new fares were decided,” Mr Jonas said.

“We want our rights as taxi operators to be respected.

“The minister does not have powers to review transport fares, those powers are vested in the Transport Board and we will take legal action against him,” Mr Jonas said.

Mr Maliehe justified his unilateral fare increase by saying he had to act after “two weeks of fruitless meetings with taxi operators”.

“The fares that were announced earlier had to be deferred due to the public outcry. As the Minister of Transport I had to look into this matter and discover where we had gone wrong (in agreeing to the initial fare hike).

“And after fruitless meetings with taxi operators that had gone on for two weeks, I had to use discretionary powers vested in me to respond to the public outcry (over the fare hikes),” Mr Maliehe said, adding the public should not be made to pay much more for the failures  by the previous governments to increase the fares since 2013.

 

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