Having endured discrimination and maltreatment at the hands of the Gaborone/Maun long distance public transporters, Boteti residents eventually engaged the area legislator, Slumber Tsogwane, to mediate and iron out their differences with the transport owners.
The residents complained that the long distance public transport commuting between the area settlements discriminate against them as they are denied the right to commute saying transport operators shun them because of the short distances traveled.
However, it emerged last week in parliament that such behaviour is punishable though it cannot be criminalized.
“My ministry is aware that some long distance public transport operators do discriminate against short distance travelers. It is, however, against their permits of operation,” Assistant Minister of Works and Transport, Frank Ramsden, revealed.
Ramsden said his ministry had and will continue to engage transport operators directly and through the Botswana Road Transport (BRTS) and other associations to ensure that operators meet their obligations of providing adequate road transport services to all travelers.
The assistant minister said the ministry would not criminalize the undesirable behaviour but would mete out appropriate punishment, such as the suspension of licence to curb the trend.
“We will always remind the operators ‘do not do this…do not do that. We can not criminalize the behaviour,” replied Ramsden when asked by the Kgatleng East MP, Isaac Mabiletsa, why the ministry could not criminalize the unwanted behaviour of the transport owners.
Short distance commuters across the country who do not have transport suffer the same fate. Long distance public transport includes the Gaborone/Gantsi, Gaborone/Francistown, Francistown/Maun routes.
Ramsden warned that the Gaborone/Maun transporters against the unwarranted behaviour, adding that the ministry would intensify inspections along the route “to ensure that transport operators comply with conditions of their permits.”
With regard to short distance travelers who are not picked up by transporters, Ramsden advised that they take details of the bus and report such instances to the department of Road Transport and Safety who will investigate and take appropriate action where necessary.