Public bus drivers protest pirate taxi increase

PUBLIC bus operators in Kitwe yesterday parked their buses in protest against the increase in pirate taxi operators who are allegedly suffocating their routes and adversely affecting their business.

The bus drivers said it was disappointing that government had allowed the pirate taxi operators to continue with their illegal operations, instead of moving in to stop them.

One of the bus drivers, Charles Sichilima told the Daily Nation in Kitwe that they had decided to park their buses to protest over the increasing number of pirate taxi operators and government’s failure to deal with the situation.

“As bus drivers on the Copper belt, we decided to protest over the increasing number of pirate taxi operators in the province because these people are suffocating our routes and adversely affecting our business. We are disappointed because the government has failed to deal with the matter.

“We have talked to the District Commissioner, the Town Clerk and Inspector General of Police, but nothing has come to fruition. It appears in Zambia, the government is allowing illegality. These people are operating illegally, but government has allowed them to operate illegally,” Mr Sichilima said.

And Zambia Bus and Taxi Workers Union (ZABUTWU) Vice-President Poster Jumbe said the complaints of the drivers were genuine which government should take seriously.

Mr Jumbe said pirate taxi drivers, in most cases, have no regard for the safety of security of the passengers, while in certain cases, criminals were using unregistered vehicles to attack people in the name of carrying them as passengers.

“These Noahs which pirate taxi drivers are using have no security or safety of the passangers in case something happened. So these pirate taxis are a threat to people’s lives because even criminals can use these unregistered vehicles and later attack them.

“So the complaints of the drivers about pirate taxi operators are genuine and government should take it seriously,” Mr Jumbe said.

But Kitwe City Council (KCC) Public Relations Manager Dorothy Sampa said bus drivers should not accuse the Government of legalizing the illegality, but should be honest to tell the public that the government through the local authority had been working with them to try and deal with the issue of pirate taxi drivers.

Ms Sampa said the increase in pirate taxi operators was a complex one and needed to be tackled by various institutions such as the Zambia Police, the Road Traffic and Safety Agency (RTSA) and other stakeholders.

She said the decision taken by the bus drivers to park their vehicles in protest against the increase in pirate taxi operators in the city was not a right decision.

“The position taken by the public transport operators to park their buses and blame the local authority of legalizing the illegality is not true. They should be honest and attest that we have been working together with them in trying to stop piracy.

“This is a complex issue and we have to work with other institutions such as the Police, RSTA and other stakeholders.

We have been having meetings with the Police and RSTA to find a solution to the problem. The only solution to the problem is to have a round table meeting and not to withdraw services,” Ms Sampa said.