Ministry weighs in on taxi war

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MASERU — The Ministry of Public Works and Transport has told rebellious affiliates of the Maseru Region Taxi Operators (MRTO) to accept the association’s new leadership.
Six member associations of the MRTO have been refusing to recognise the assemblage’s new leadership, saying some officials had come into power through an illegal process.
The disaffected affiliates — Maseru Stars, Maseru Urban, Mabalane, Sakeng, City Centre and Maqalika — approached the transport ministry alleging that four of the MRTO’s committee members had been illegally appointed during an emergency meeting called by the MRTO on October 10.
They said the four committee members should not have been appointed because this was not a general meeting but a special meeting.
The MRTO’s committee is made up of 12 members, drawn from 22 affiliate associations.
The defiant associations also accused the committee of making illegal amendments to the MRTO’s constitution to allow representatives of route committees to take part in MRTO affairs.
During a meeting held on November 5, transport ministry principal secretary Lebohang Phooko however advised the associations to accept the new members of the MRTO leadership.
He also recommended that the MRTO organises a general meeting to comply with its constitution.
Phooko’s recommendations have, however, angered the six associations which are now threatening to boycott the meeting arguing that it was against the MRTO’s constitution. 
The associations’ spokesperson, Kemiso Mosenene, said it was not clear which other issues were to be tackled at that meeting besides an audit report.
“We cannot go to that meeting with the route committee members because according to our knowledge it is against our constitution,” Mosenene said.
“During the meeting MRTO leaders said they amended the association’s constitution sometime in February.
“And when they amended the constitution the route committee members were now able to attend the meetings and even got a chance to vote.
“Section 20 of the MRTO constitution says amendments can only be done during the annual general meeting if it is necessary.
“After that those amendments will be signed at the law office by chairperson, secretary and treasurer.
“Besides that the association’s seats were not vacant but they decided to elect new leaders illegally during a meeting they held without consulting other members.”
Mosenene said they would not attend the meeting recommended by Phooko because the MRTO is not going to “hold the elections like we want them to”.
“We want them to hold the elections so that the MTRO is led by the right people,” he said.
MRTO spokesperson Lebohang Moea said the meeting suggested by Phooko would take place with or without the rebel associations.
“We will go to a meeting in two months’ time like the principal secretary suggested with or without them,” Moea said.
He admitted they had amended the MRTO constitution in February.
“The constitution was amended because the members of the association including the six associations suggested that,” he said.
“They were part of the people who amended the constitution even though they are acting like they were not there.”
He said the constitution was amended because it was over a year since their association was formed so they needed to change a “few things”. 
“The amendments are now part of the constitution because they were approved at the Law Office in October,” he said.
The MRTO committee is responsible for implementing the policies recommended by member associations.
It also deals with the government on behalf of the taxi operators when they need to push for policy changes or fare reviews.

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