“Take this number, if I happen not to show up call a cab” An individual would usually say that if he might not show up on the second party.
The 4+1 taxis in Maseru operate from different angles of duty but with a common goal of delivering passengers to and from their destinations. These four seated cars can be hired for emergency services because they are portable and can move around easily. When an individual gets stuck somewhere, just calls a taxi in order to get back home.
These vehicles take passengers to local destinations on a fare of M6.50, are normally found around the city and function around it. If an individual wants to take a long journey he/she pays extra amount to the taxi driver because by then the taxi would be operating out of its jurisdiction, that action of renting a car is called special and the car has to bear the sign of special on its front window pane, as to show that the car is not free for public transport it has been rented. The car accommodates the capacity of four passengers plus the driver, hence the name four plus one (4+1).
These vehicles are seen with the yellow strip on both sideways, the yellow lamp on top of the vehicle that bears the sign taxi and the registration number on top of the bonnet that shows the district the taxi belongs to; which is most important and differentiates it from unregistered vehicles. The taxi without the registration number is regarded as a pirate and not registered with the Department of Traffic and Transport, of which is a body that controls the entire taxi association of Lesotho.
“These 4+1’s that are not registered with the Department, usually steal the passengers and that action usually affect us because, we pay subscription monthly and they do not, so they tend to make lot of cash, and that makes it hard for us to compete against them” said Moroallo Serialong the taxi driver of Ha-Thetsane.
Ever since the taxis affectionally called cabs came into play, there had been several changes in the transportation industry; some consider them life saving while some say they produce lot of congestion. Recently the drivers of mini buses have started crying foul with them, saying their chances of transporting passengers have now deteriorated because passengers now prefer 4+1 over them saying, 4+1 transport them everywhere and it takes less time to fill the seats.
On the contrary passengers say the presence of taxis its time saving because they stand a good chance to reach their destinations in time, and some 4+1’s even transport them to the comfort of their homes. They also declare that taxis are comfortable; as a result passengers become relaxed in them.
However, there has been a public outcry concerning the taxis, saying some people are being abducted and terrible things happen to them. Stories about abduction are normally heard on radios, according to reports some of the taxi drivers get away with the belongings of passengers and passengers are forced to go to the media or police to report such incidents.
The 4+1’s are divided into three sections that had been invented by the drivers which are; City Centre, Mabalane and Mohokare. Subscriptions are paid once the driver has registered to a certain section. Subscriptions differ according to the agreed terms of the section. The objective of subscriptions to the sections is to enable the payments of cab permits, of which are granted by the Traffic and Transport Department.
“Traffic department has a board which selects one or two members to speak on behalf of the entire taxi operation in Maseru. If there might be an assembly letters are send to taxi drivers, but that practice is no longer effective as it was before.” Continued Mr. Serialong
For the taxi to be fully functional in accordance with the department of Traffic and Transport the following are required; certified copy of passport and certified copy of the blue card (taxation card). To facilitate the registrations, the department functions with a board that has been appointed by the Minister of Transport. For a driver to be suitable for public transport he has to be 26 years and above and must possess a valid driver’s license.
“For a driver to register his vehicle for public transport, his request is taken to the board and analysed, then the board grants a permit” declared Mohau Rametse of Traffic and Transport Department