Bus operators today vented their anger at Ministry of Transport and Communications permanent secretary Misheck Lungu because of government’s failure to combat pirate taxis and other passenger service vehicles.
This happened in Ndola today where the government officials held a consultative meeting with members of the bus and taxi drivers association to discuss the implementation of Statutory Instrument number 79, which intends to phase out unsafe minibuses.
At the beginning of the meeting, Kitwe Bus and Taxi Drivers Association secretary Jonathan Chileshe introduced himself as a disappointed and frustrated person despite attending the meeting whilst BTDAZ general secretary Daniel Kampilimba said the ministry and RTSA was ignoring concerns raised by operators.
When Lungu was called upon to address the meeting, he demanded that the two withdraw their statements before he could speak.
But the two instead repeated their frustrations.
“The reason is simple. We are disappointed and frustrated in this nation. Pirating has killed the industry. Lots of meetings are called upon, but there are results. How do we become happy when we are being killed? I am still disappointed and frustrated,” maintained Chileshe.
And Kampilimba said; “Our business has suffered and we are frustrated. If you meet with drivers this is the general concern. For as long as the ministry and RTSA don’t act on what we ask, I won’t withdraw.”
At this point, Lungu realized that he had no choice but to address the frustrated transporters.
“I see am attending a meeting of frustrated people. I will address you and work with a team of frustrated people. It is important that the Copperbelt has a large number of operators, that is the northern region. That is why I have come here to find solutions,” Lungu said.
“Every time the ministry calls for meetings, let us come and resolve. The government of President Edgar Lungu is not a confrontational government, and us as his tools will not be confrontational. If we stand and point at fingers, we will not achieve anything.”
He said he was equally concerned with the rate of pirating.
“I am equally concerned that a bus driver is frustrated with piraters. We want to put in regulations that will capture everyone so that they contribute. We should not come in a meeting with frustrated minds. Let us not go into meetings frustrated. My coming here is to discuss SI 79 which requires buses to have seat beats. This is aimed at protecting our people who travel on buses,” said Lungu.
“It is good to make money, but we should protect the lives of the people. This SI has not been implemented. This year, we have reduced the number of accidents. This is an achievement.”