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Taxi operators’ strike suspended

’Marafaele Mohloboli

TAXI associations have indefinitely suspended their stay away which was scheduled for 17 May 2019 following their recent talks with the Ministry of Public Works and Transport.

The Wednesday talks follow shortly after taxi associations last week mulled a strike to push for an upward review of taxi fares.

The taxi associations gave the government a seven-working-day ultimatum to respond to the taxi operators’ grievances, which they say is subject to review afterwards.

The deputy chairperson of the Central Region Taxi Association, Mathe Khalane, said they have seen it fit to suspend their strike indefinitely so as to give chance to talks.

“The government has also agreed to take us for a study tour to some of the countries which use the same autonomous system which we are demanding so that we can be independent in determining our taxi fares,” Mr Khalane said.

“We also feel that the police should not always be on the roads like they normally are and should fine drivers on the spot instead of arresting them for different offenses as is the situation at the moment.”

Two weeks ago, local taxi associations slammed the government for imposing the current taxi fares on them which they say do not take into cognizance the high costs they incur including fuel and maintenance of their vehicles.

The associations said although they are aware that the government has not increased the salaries of civil servants, they want taxi fares to go as high as M12 from the current M7, 50 for taxis and M8 for 4+1 taxis.

“This time around we are not going to back down because fuel is going up without allowing any negotiations. We want the prices to go up to M12. Some taxi operators actually want M15.

“We are aware that the government did not increase civil servants’ salaries and we are sorry about that but there is nothing we can do about it. With or without the increments, we are going to increase the fares,” Maseru Route Taxi Operators spokesperson Lebohang Moea said.

Last year the government barred taxi operators from increasing fares from M6 to M10 citing the plight of the hard-pressed commuters whose salaries remain stagnant.

The taxi operators then took the matter to court to push for the M10 fares but Mr Moea said the case is yet to be heard.

“We had proposed that at least we would increase the fares by 50 lisente per annum so as to give commuters a breather but because the government imposed their prices on us last time, we now want at least M12,” Mr Moea said.

Mr Moea said the other reason for which they intend to strike is to express dissatisfaction over how transport Minister Maliehe handles their grievances relating to the welfare of local taxi operators across the borders in South Africa.

“Cross border taxi operators still face huge challenges when they cross into South Africa.

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