Motor industry big shorts, Satar Dada of Motor Centre and Naledi Motors and Ishmael Nshakazhogwe of Zambezi Motors have joined the fray on the side of public transport operators in their fight against government. At the centre of the storm is a Statutory Instrument issued in October last year by Minister of Transport and Communication Nonofho Molefhi reducing the number of seats in buses and combis.
The effect of the statutory instrument was that all combis and buses which do not conform to the specified number of seats will neither have their permits renewed nor issued with roadworthiness certificates. The Botswana Bus Operators Association met the Minister of Presidential Affairs on Thursday pleading him to intervene after ‘they lost hope in Molefhi who they say has not been cooperative.’
Masisi, however, referred them back to Molefhi reminding them to follow all proper complaints procedures. In a letter the association wrote to Masisi asking for an appointment, the chairman Tirafalo Mponang said if the regulation is implemented, all the mini-buses and and mid-buses in Botswana will be phased out as none of them comply with the specifications by the minister.
“According to this regulation, all these vehicles are no longer eligible and are not being issued with roadworthiness certificates for either issuance “P” Permits and renewal of road licences. This means that all these vehicles across the entire country will be packed in the very near future (2 months), resulting in tremendous losses incurred by the small business owners, financial institutions, car dealership and the general public will also suffer financially and from a safety point of view as they will have to look for alternatives modes of transport that are not regulated by government.”
Mponang said since this is a national issue, the matter should be referred to Parliament to either amend or strike out the regulation as it is detrimental to the public at large. Mponang told The Sunday Standard, that almost 400 combis and buses are off the road because of the new regulation.
He said only buses and combis with valid permits are still on the road but once the permits expire, the owners will have to change seats or else the permits won’t be renewed. So serious is the matter that, car dealers have also intervened in an attempt to assist their customers. Motor car magnate Satar Dada was at a meeting where bus owners met Masisi last week. In a letter that his company wrote to Director of Road Transport and Safety, Jaco Erasmus who is a commercial Manager at Naledi Motors, said that for the past years 6 years, the vehicles which they sell have been approved by government.
“Our current dilemma is that our old customers must renew their permits and roadworthy certificates, so we kindly request your assistance so we can overcome this matter. Can you please assist us in a letter so that we can leave all old units as they are, as according to our knowledge it is not a safety issue but merely more of a comfort issue.”
Zambezi Motors have also written a letter to Department of Transport and Safety asking for the department to revisit the issue. In the letter, Ishmael Nshakazhogwe, said that over the last three decades, they have sold large number of mini buses that are continuing to service the industry which have been accepted and registered as per applicable policy.
“However, we learnt that effective September 2013, there might be change in seating capacity to a standardised number of 24. Whilst, we respect this policy applicable to new vehicle registrations, we are strongly of the belief that units which were properly registered and that are running on the road should receive your blessings of allowing them to be licensed, as we hear that number of clients vehicles are lined up for licensing and roadworthy purposes.” Molefhi told this publication that he will be meeting the bus owners on Tuesday and that’s when he will be able to comment.