THE Livingstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has condemned the recent protests and behavior of unruly taxi drivers in the tourist capital who disrupted normal business and tourism activities.
LCCI president Miles Daka said he was saddened with the riots and disruption of business saying their concerns could only be resolved through dialogue to reach an amicable consensus and not stone throwing.
In a press statement released in Livingstone yesterday, Mr Daka said the increase in fuel pump prince and adjustment in road taxi rate was not new to the business community but rioting was alien and medieval way of handling policy matters.
“Active engagement with the Government is key in ironing such challenges. Government should equally use this situation as a barometer of measurement against the background of not involving key stakeholders in formulating certain policies.
“The riots and broking of roads lead to disruption of business and ultimate losses coupled with losses arising from load shedding,” he said.
Mr Daka said Livingstone, which was Zambia’s tourist city, was a very sensitive arena to have riots and protests.
“This will scare away potential and worthy tourists. Regular and perpetual tourists normally have a phobia against seeing riots as in most cases are targeted by terror groups in other countries.
Police should arrest and prosecute people involved in these to the full extent of the law while the Government should also increase funding for the police in certain areas like Livingstone to have special intelligence monitoring and curling such acts on time by the police,” Mr Daka said. .
He appealed to the aggrieved parties to seek alternative avenues of addressing the matters before them.
On Wednesday, the Police in Livingstone rounded up 54 taxi drivers and other vendors who were protesting over increased fuel prices and other statutory fees.
Taxi drivers were protesting over increased fuel prices, other hiked fees charged by the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) and Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA) as well as increased cases of them being impounded by traffic police officers
“We have arrested 54 people and they are all in custody. As of now (14:00 hours), the screening process has not yet started.
“Some people will be released after the screening process. The police were just picking anyone found among protesting taxi drivers in the Central Business District of Livingstone,” Southern Province Commissioner Mary Chikwanda said through her deputy Bonnie Kapeso.
Some newspaper vendors selling newspapers were also rounded up and taken into police custody
Several banks, shops and other business houses operating in the Central Business District of Livingstone, including Spar, were closed and workers abandoned the town centre as protesting taxi drivers scampered in all directions after the police started unleashing teargases.
Taxi drivers, who resolved not to carry passengers yesterday, closed the main Musi-oa-tunya Road leading to Victoria Falls with stones as well as drums and logs while burning tyres, thereby prompting the police to use teargases to disperse them.