Enraged Maun taxi operators cry foul

Up in arms: Maun taximen in a meeting
Up in arms: Maun taximen in a meeting

MAUN: Enraged taxi and combi operators have demanded that authorities explain why the 60,000 plus population of the tourism town is only served by three designated bus stops.

At a meeting with Maun West legislator, Tawana Moremi at the bus rank last Sunday, Maun Taxi and Combi Association chairman, Rothomia Ithuteng accused government transport authorities, the North West District Council (NWDC) and police of failing the taxi industry in the tourism village.

Ithuteng alleged that local authorities had a “hidden agenda” to destroy the taxi industry in Maun, alleging that transport and police authorities charged them exorbitant fees for offences beyond their control.

“We are forced to commit certain traffic offences such as picking and dropping passengers at illegal points because there are few designated bus and taxi stops in Maun,” he said. “Maun has more than 60, 000 people but only three designated spots for picking and dropping passengers.

“We are charged by the transport officials and police even when they know there are few designated areas.”

Ithuteng said taxi operators had now improvised and were incurring daily charges for picking and dropping in undesignated areas. He said there is a need to demarcate ‘taxi only’ parking areas within the busy sides of the village, suggesting that pick and drop cites be established at the Book Centre, Letsholathebe Memorial Hospital, Masters Shopping Complex and the New Mall.

Other taxi owners at the meeting also lambasted tour operators whom they accused of refusing to allow the dropping of passengers at lodges. The taxi men said the tour operators insist that the lodges and hotels are private property.

”We are told that taxi operators are critical for the tourism industry and that in the tourism sector, first impressions count but here we cannot do that due to discrimination,” said one taxi owner.

“We suspect we are being treated like this because our industry is mostly dominated by locals while the tourism sector is white-controlled.”

Ithuteng added that road markings on Maun roads were barely legible and yet police charged taxi and combi operators when they missed a sign.

“You have to be lucky to have been born in this village to know there is a road sign at a certain location, otherwise you are doomed,” he quipped.

Ithuteng revealed that while the tourist town has over 300 taxis, the section at the bus rank reserved for taxis can only accommodate 80 vehicles. The taxi association chair added that the bus rank had deplorable health standards and lacked a bus terminal and clean water.

“There is no clean water supply for us here as the supplied water from the taps is dirty and apparently mixes with sewer,” he said.

Taxi owners at the meeting also called on government to revise taxis fares specifically for Maun, which they say has higher fuel prices than the rest of the country.

In response, Moremi promised to help solve their grievances but added that he was concerned about reckless driving committed by some in the industry.

Sedie ward councillor, Kaokapita Kaokapita said he would request the council to demarcate more bus and taxi stop areas.  “Council is currently contemplating constructing a bus terminal area at the bus rank in partnership with the private sector. The initial bus/taxi rank design before the rank construction did not include the terminal building,” said Kaokapita.

Editor's Comment
What about employees in private sector?

How can this be achieved when there already is little care about the working conditions of those within the private sector employ?For a long time, private sector employees have been neglected by their employers, not because they cannot do better to care for them, but because they take advantage of government's laxity when it comes to protecting and advocating for public sector employees, giving the cue to employers within the private sector...

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