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Taxi operators expose govt again

by Lesotho Times
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The government was exposed once again this week, after taxi-operators barricaded the Maseru Bridge Border Post, with the relevant authorities completely powerless to do anything about this open defiance and show of disrespect.

The public transporters started their protest on Tuesday morning in an effort to prod government into helping them in their fight against their South African counterparts.
The Lesotho operators are angry that the South Africans are not allowing them to operate in that country despite a court order issued in October last year, permitting them to do so.

However, it is the manner in which the operators, who are members of the Lesotho Passengers Transport Cross-border Association (LPTCA), went about their protest — and the way the action affected Lesotho businesses and the general public — which should be cause for alarm for the relevant authorities.

As soon as the protestors blocked the Maseru Bridge Border Post, Lesotho could feel the effects of the blockade as it meant the country’s major gateway into South Africa had been cut off.
The post is practically the country’s umbilical cord, without which it would find it difficult, if not impossible, to survive. This was clearly evident in the almost 24 hours that the border post was impassable due to the marauding taxi operators, who were threatening anyone who dared to challenge them with violence.

And as happened previously, government was not decisive enough in ensuring the protestors were removed from the border post, through whatever means necessary, to ensure their actions did not violate other people’s rights — top among them the right to free movement.

That the Minister of Law, Human Rights and Constitutional Affairs, Haae Phoofolo, tried to engage the protestors in an effort to persuade them into ending their disruptive action was commendable, but the fact that the intervention yielded nothing is what should be worrisome to the coalition government.

The taxi operators might have ended their protest yesterday, but they remain a threat to the thousands of people who cross the post on foot.
As reported elsewhere in this issue, the operators yesterday said they would be stopping anyone trying to move across the Maseru border on foot as they believe that individual would be crossing to the South African side of the border to board taxis belonging to their rivals.

However, such threats should not be taken lightly by the relevant authorities, as they show total disregard for the rule of law and other people’s rights.
The coalition government, led by Prime Minister Thomas Thabane, should not be distracted by its internal squabbles, and abdicate from its duty of providing quality leadership, which the electorate expected when voting it into power in 2012.

It is no longer a secret that the coalition government, comprising Dr Thabane’s All Basotho Convention, Lesotho Congress for Democracy (LCD) and Basotho National Party (BNP) is facing serious challenges regarding its unity, but this should not be at the expense of the nation.

In this edition we also report that the LCD is seeking the intervention of the Christian Council of Lesotho in a “last ditch effort” to save the coalition government.
Be that as it may, it is time Dr Thabane tackled the issues bedevilling this nation head on and with the urgency and decisiveness they deserve, if Lesotho is to be the progressive and peaceful nation that it had become over recent years.


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