The harassment of pirate taxis by police is the worst form of intimidation by the current administration, says UPND Copperbelt provincial chairperson Elisha Matambo.
Mr Matambo said it was unfortunate that the police did not want to engage the pirates to find a lasting solution but preferred to rough them up.
He said the PF government was to blame for not fulfilling its promises to the people of Zambia.
He said the PF members used the same people during campaigns and that it was surprising for the police to act like that because they had already created the illegality.
“Government should harmonise the situation because it has failed to create employment and now it wants to take away something that supports their families. What type of a government is this?
“It should not hide in the name of wanting registered taxis when it has allowed street vending. Why don’t they start by removing the people from the streets? Didn’t these drivers vote for them? What they are doing is bad and innocent people are being harassed for no good reason,” he said.
Mr Matambo said government should find a mature manner of resolving the matter as this would bring a lot of misery to the families of the people they are harassing.
But when contacted Zambia Police Service Traffic Officer Yoram Phiri insisted pirate taxi drivers should register their vehicles or risk being impounded.
Mr. Phiri said it was illegal for private vehicles to operate as public passenger vehicles anywhere in the country, and Lusaka and Copperbelt were no exception.
He said this was a nationwide exercise and that no private taxis would be allowed on the roads.
“We are going to enforce the law on public service vehicles which have taken to the streets, just because government has allowed street vendors doesn’t mean we must also allow the illegal public transport business to thrive. For Lusaka, we are just working out a strategy for them,” Mr. Phiri said.
He explained that most criminal activities including some murders and aggravated robberies were attributed to the use of private vehicles used as taxis.
He said public service vehicles should be properly insured with accredited drivers for the job.
“But most of these pirated vehicles are driven by people who do not qualify as public service drivers. And it becomes very difficult for compensation if involved in an accident because they don’t carry comprehensive insurance,” Mr. Phiri said.
There has been a national wide clampdown on unregistered public vehicles operating as passenger service vehicles especially taxis.