By Alina Mabe and Itumeleng Lipala

The Department of Traffic announced that there will be a public hearing on the 17th April 2023. The purpose of the meeting is to allocate routes and address how to legally obtain driving permits.

Mr Ts’oana Matsie, a taxi driver from Ha Abia spoke to us about their daily challenges, he mentioned that biggest struggle they are faced with is the long waiting period before obtaining their permits from the department of traffic. He says the Department hesitates to give out the permits which they applied for a while ago, in his particular case two years back. The delayed issuing of permits forces their hand hence they find themselves involved in this fraudulent activities. As waiting is not an option because the taxi business is their means of survival, their only source of income and the only way they are able to put food on the table and take care of their families.

In their view the traffic department issues out permits to the highest bidders! Some individuals who do not even qualify, but have the financial muscle to pay off the officer’s in charge. They feel that the delay is deliberate and is a way the officers get their bribery. Matsie and fellow drivers suggested that the department of traffic host two public sittings annually to afford drivers the opportunity to apply and get the permits as quickly as possible.

Mr Paul Monyane, a taxi driver who applied for a permit about three years ago but with no luck says that they as taxi drivers plea to the department of traffic to attend to their needs effects in a timely manner and to stop issuing permits to people who do not follow proper procedure because they are ruining their business. They tarnish their reputation as taxi drivers and threaten public safety.

The drivers urge the public to only make use of transportation in the taxi ranks to avoid finding themselves in dangerous situations, for their own safety. Taxi ranks have inspectors, drivers work in a controlled environment. The inspectors know the drivers personally and can vouch for them, and in cases where passengers forget their parcels in a taxi which they found at the rank, they can actually trace back their lost items and retrieve them.

They also plead to the board and management of the Taxi Association Lesotho and the Traffic Department to stop with bribery and corruption.