Major boost for public transport

Staff Reporter

MASERU — Gender, Youth, Sports and Recreation Minister Thesele ’Maseribane has facilitated a deal with carmaker BAW South Africa, for taxi owners to access 150 units under the government’s Partial Credit Guarantee Fund.

’Maseribane said the deal is aimed at empowering Basotho men and women who are role players in the taxi industry to improve their businesses under the government’s M50 million Partial Credit Guarantee Fund as part of his ministry’s responsibility towards gender equality.

’Maseribane said the Sasuka 009 minibus taxis (locally known as quantums) are expected to arrive in Lesotho in batches of 50 before the end of December and will operate under the Cross-Border Agreement with South Africa as the per the Sadc region regulations.

For now, ’Maseribane said, the deal is exclusive to the Ketane-ea-Boroa Cross Border Taxi Association covering the southern regions of Mafeteng, Mohale’s Hoek, Quthing and Qacha’s Nek.

The deal includes the associations getting the car at a discount for M299 000 with a free service plan after every 200 000 km travelled.

James Chung, BAW chief executive officer said the deal is aimed at improving Lesotho’s taxi industry as a business, developing operations as well as affording passengers comfort and luxury.

After travelling throughout Africa extensively and establishing that African countries rely on minibus taxis as the main mode of public transport, Chung said the car is specifically designed to adapt to “Africa’s climate, bad terrain, roads and many other requirements”.

“The car is manufactured to adapt to bad terrain and has air-conditioning to avoid opening windows for maximum safety while driving,” Chung said.

“Unlike imported used Japanese models tailored around Asia, the BAW minibus is strictly tailor-made for Africa.”

He added: “By using our cars, people in the rural areas where roads are bad will have upgraded transport. Our cars also have shock absorbers to manage the weight of heavy passengers.”

The cars also guarantee comfort for well-dressed Basotho professionals thus encouraging more and more people to use public transport, Chung said.

“We provide air-conditioned cars that upgrade and secure people’s lives by availing safe and credible public transport.

“This is a revolution for Africa’s taxi industry.”

Chung added that because the company wanted to further empower Basotho through job creation, as a long-term plan for market support in Lesotho, BAW was considering “manufacturing parts and assembling our cars here”.

A representative of the associations and one of the taxi owners, Reentseng Mzilikazi, yesterday expressed gratitude for ’Maseribane’s initiative to help them strike a government funded deal with BAW.

“We cannot thank government enough for considering us for the partial guarantee loans. Those 150 taxis are not even enough, we need more taxis,” Mzilikazi said.

“We’re content with the minister’s initiative because the partial guarantee fund was established a long time ago by the previous government but was never utilised.”

Mzililikazi added that all the 150 minibus taxis will have cross-border permits and that their owners’ local associations should have relations with South African taxi transport organisations in order to “work in SA as per the cross-border memorandum of understanding”.

 

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