Burundi Police seize over 150 taxis in Bujumbura

The police have seized more than 150 cabs for security reasons since 17 July. Taxi drivers say they do not know why their cars were seized arguing that the Road Traffic Police issued them necessary document to work. They deplore that it is a great loss to spend two days without working.

Seized taxis parked at Top One gas station, in northern Bujumbura

Seized taxis parked at Top One gas station, in northern Bujumbura

The Burundian police seized over 150 of the taxis operating in Bujumbura. Some of the seized vehicles are parked at the office of the Road Traffic Police, others at some gas stations and offices of Bujumbura communes. Taxis seized are those of a unique color which belong to transport associations namely Hello Taxi, Select Taxi, Safe Taxi … in addition to the commonly known taxis with the blue-white colors.

“Last night, the police arrested me on the street and ordered me to drive to Musaga zone office in southern Bujumbura. They did not tell me the reason why they seized my vehicle, “said J.K, a taxi driver met at Musaga Zone office. All these taxi drivers you see here do not know why the police seized their cars,” he said furiously. I worry about my family. If I do not work, my children will not have food to eat, “he added.

This taxi driver claims he is unjustly banned from working. “I fulfill all the conditions required to carry out my work,” he said.

N. I, another taxi driver says he stays at the gas station, in northern Bujumbura where his vehicle is parked hoping that from time to time, the police will allow him to resume his activities. I have not committed any offence. The one who made this decision violated the law since we have all the necessary documents for our vehicles, said N.I.

NshimirimanaIssa, the representative of the transport association Safe Taxi Transport, said the authorities of the Road Traffic Police (PSR) told him the vehicles were seized for investigation reasons. “According to the police, the grenade attack conducted on July 16 in Bwiza Zone was perpetrated by a criminal who was in a taxi,” Nshimirimana said. He calms down the drivers whose taxis were seized saying they will resume their daily activities very soon.“Representatives of transport associations have begun negotiations with PSR authorities,” says Nshimirimana.

The spokesman for the police, Pierre Nkurikiye, says the seized vehicles are part of the ‘business and promenade’ category but are illegally used as taxis. “The seized vehicles are not tinted with the required colors for taxis,” Nkurikiye says. He also says they are often used in criminal acts. Nkurikiye adds that the police will continue to seize other vehicles being illegally used in paid transport of people.