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Gaborone Commuters Suffer As Transporters Strike

Staff Writer
There was disruption of public transport on Friday when taxi and combi operators in Gaborone downed their tools to protest the recent reduction in fares.

Many commuters in the city were stranded at bus stops and had to walk to work, school and other destinations.

Some commuters claimed combi drivers blocked private motorists from giving them lifts. The situation was made worse by the fact that the operators did not give notice about the boycott.

Kgomotso Sebolao, who resides in Mogoditshane but works in the Main Mall, was close to tears after a struggle to get to work. "I woke up normally but things changed when I saw a group of people walking past the bus stop," Sebolao said. She started hitchhiking but private car owners were reluctant to give lifts.

Sebolao said a certain motorist wanted to give them a lift but a combi driver warned him against the idea. The motorist had to leave fearing that his car would be vandalised. "We had to walk all the way to the Main Mall, as private car owners were reluctant to give us a ride," Sebolao said.

At the Station, one Masego Ditshego said a relative was harassed by a group of taxi drivers who mistook family members in his car for passengers given a lift to undermine the boycott.

"I guess they could have done something nasty to him if he

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didn't drive-off. These guys (operators) are crazy. I am wondering why they don't fight their battle with the government and leave us alone. At the end of the day, they have parked their vehicles," Ditshego said.

The chairman of the Gaborone Taxi Association, Gibson Matenge said they have downed their tools because passengers were attacking operators.

Matenge said since the reduction of fares, his association had been inundated with reports that drivers and conductors have been roughed up by passengers demanding to pay the reduced fare of P2.70 instead of the old P3.

Matenge dismissed reports that operators were harassing private motorists who dropped their family members at the Station. He said some motorists took advantage of the situation to make money by ferrying passengers for pay.

"We have taxi and combi marshals who know these pirates so they might have been taking them to task regarding the current situation," Matenge said. Matenge said that they will stop the boycott after the government consulted with them and the security of the operators is assured.

Efforts to speak to the director of Road Transport and Safety, Orapeleng Mosigi were futile as he was said to be in a meeting at the Attorney Generals Chambers on Friday.



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