Africa-Press – Lesotho. The squabble between Lesotho taxi operators and their South African counter parts had reared its ugly side yet again. This was witnessed on Monday when Maseru to Ladybrand Scholar Transporters members
were denied access to cross the Maseru border post to Ladybrand by the Manyatseng Taxi Association (MTA) members. This saw Lesotho students studying in South Africa (SA) returning to their homes.
On the other hand, SA government despite having its borders closed, had afforded the special dispensation amongst other groups to the students effective from
June 1. Speaking to Informative Newspaper, Maseru to Ladybrand Scholar Transporters Chairperson Napo Makubakube said they failed to reach an agreement with their SA counterparts
who wanted them to drop the students at the border post so that they (MTA members) transport them (students) from the border to schools in Ladybrand. Makubakube
also said they are licensed to carry students while their SA counterparts’ licenses do not allow them to transport students, adding that their permits only allow
them to carry passengers. The Maseru to Ladybrand Scholar Transporters said before today, they have been part of numerous meetings between Lesotho and SA governments, in which the MTA
members were part of. He however said, despite their attendance to those high powered engagements, their Manyatseng counterparts told them that they also need a share as their business
has been badly affected by the Covid-19 lockdown, which saw the closure of borders. He went on to say that Manyatseng taxi operators proposal was also
turned down by the students’ parents adding that such a move can increase human trafficking chances. The Chairman also said that will also become costly on the
part of the students as they will have to pay twice, meanwhile the students pay monthly transport fare while the Manyatseng will require them to pay cash on
daily basis. Makubakube also said that they have had an audience with the South African High Commission security staff who ensured them of their safety as they ferry students to SA.
He now awaits the final word from the Ministry of Transport, which now has this issue on their table, on when to resume transporting students. The Principal Secretary (PS) of the Minister of Transport Thabo Motoko said they
had scheduled a meeting with the SA government on April 11 which failed due to the lockdown. The meeting which never saw the light of the day, was to discuss
the cross-border problems arising between the two countries. Motoko said he remains hopeful that this impasse will be solved in their next meeting despite not saying the exact date between Lesotho and SA.
The PS said they should not leave the students at the border. “Please be patient,” he appealed to the Lesotho cross border transporters. He also promised to take up the matter with the Minister of Transport Hon.
Tšoeu Mokeretla who will take it with his SA counterpart, Minister of Transport Hon. Fikile Mbalula. Motoko said he will get back to the Maseru to Ladybrand Scholar Transporters “very
soon” to map a way forward. Contacted for comment, South African High Commissioner to Lesotho Sello Moloto said he is not aware of those developments.
“I just learned from you,” he said. The High Commissioner said that his office only focuses on things within the Lesotho border not outside the borders. Attempts
to get the side of the Manyatseng Taxi Association failed as they quickly dismissed Informative Newspaper reporter [Tm1] in their meeting. Last month the National Assembly passed a motion hoped to ease transport issues
between the two states (Lesotho and South Africa). Dubbed, “unleashing economic growth potential of transport industry” the motion will see the “harmonized
road transport providing for equal treatment, non-discrimination, reciprocity and fair competition, harmonized operating conditions and promoting the establishment of an integrated transport system.
” The mover of this motion, Member of Parliament (MP) ‘Matlhohonolofatso Tšepang
Tšita Mosena said this move will see an enhanced economy of Lesotho and do away with the hurdles which Basotho are usually subjected to by the taxi operators
in the South African side. The motion was inspired by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) which is about Protocol on Transport, Communication and Meteorology. [Tm1]?