- as govt announces penalties for breaking lockdown rules
Ntsebeng Motsoeli/Marafaele Mohloboli
THE government has announced a strict timetable for taxis and private motorists during the 21-day nationwide lockdown. Failure to comply could result in a taxi owner being barred from operating during the lockdown which began on Monday and ends on 21 April 2020.
The nationwide lockdown is aimed at preventing the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.
In a statement this week, the Ministry of Transport’s spokesperson, Ntumeleng Ntsekhe, said all public transport vehicles were expected to operate from 6am to 10 am and again from 3pm to 6pm.
Ms Ntsekhe said private motorists would only be allowed on the roads from 6am to 6pm. Thereafter only those who had government-issued permits confirming that they were employed in gazetted essential services would be allowed to travel to enable them to perform their duties.
“Minicabs or 4+1s, as they are popularly referred to, are allowed to carry only two passengers per trip exclusive of the driver,” Ms Ntsekhe said.
“Only 45 minicabs will be allowed to transport passengers each day in Maseru while 20 minicabs will transport commuters in each city in the other nine districts.”
She said that only five minibuses would be allowed to ply a single route per day and each vehicle would only be allowed to carry only nine passengers instead of the usual 15.
“All city to city and district to district trips are prohibited. Only selected vehicles are expected to transport commuters within the stipulated time,” Ms Ntsekhe said.
A government gazette issued this week by the transport department states that all public and private transport is restricted except for buses, taxis, aeroplanes and private cars which will ferry people “for the purposes of rendering and obtaining essential services and goods, seeking medical attention, funeral services and to receive payments of grants”.
The strict regulations have resulted in many passengers being stranded or taking much longer to get their destinations.
The Lesotho Times this week observed several commuters walking to and from the central business district in Maseru due to the shortage of public transport.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Nkaku Kabi has announced more penalties for those anyone breaking the lockdown rules.
“Businesses that will be operational during the lockdown period when they are not permitted to do so will be fined M10 000.
“All those who shall be found roaming the streets without permission shall be taken to the courts of law and fined M5000.
“Anyone found to be infected with COVID-19 shall be mandatorily taken to a place designated for quarantine and placed on medical observation. Anyone who shall refuse to be taken to this place shall be fined M20 000 and taken into forced isolation. This is not meant to harass anyone but to protect lives,” Mr Kabi said this week.