The impounding of motor vehicles operating as illegal taxis in Kitwe has intensified with the Road Transport and Safety Agency (RTSA) joining in the operation which has now been extended to all Copperbelt towns and Solwezi in North-Western Province.
The operation was first started by Kitwe City Council and State police in Kitwe about three weeks ago and more than 240 pirate taxis were impounded during the first two days of the exercise.
RTSA, which joined the operation on Monday this week, has since impounded more than 66 pirate taxis on the Copperbelt.
the unruly mob hurled stones and lit fire on roads in solidarity with the pirate taxi drivers being pursued by the law enforcement agencies.
Quick action by police who moved in and fired teargas canisters prevented the situation from degenerating into chaos.
Acting Copperbelt Police Commissioner Joyce Kasosa said the protest was staged by call boys who were unhappy that police were enforcing the law to impound vehicles operating as taxis illegally.
Ms Kasosa said three people were apprehended in connection with the fracas.
There was confusion in the town centre as motorists and pedestrians scampered for safety.
Business at the sprawling Chisokone Market came to a standstill as traders quickly packed their merchandise before closing their shops.
Confusion started around 16:30 hours when some pirate taxi drivers started hooting to express their displeasure at police officers impounding their vehicles.
This was followed by chanting from a group of call boys at the junction of Independence Avenue and Bizel Road, leading to Chisokone Market, where they lit fire to block the flow of traffic and hurled stones at motorists.
Some pirate taxi drivers attributed their failure to have their vehicles registered to
alleged corruption at RTSA where they said they were being asked to pay ‘abnormal’ fees for them to undergo public service vehicle testing.
RTSA deputy director for road safety Gladwell Banda said the institution together with the police would ensure that the law on registering passenger vehicles was adhered to.
Mr Banda said there was enough time given to people to have their cars registered and that those who did not comply should not complain of harassment.