Taxi operators this week justified the proposed 20% fare increment because “it has been five years since the last increase”.
With nearly half of the Windhoek population making use of public transport, a taxi fare increase on top of the ongoing financial troubles in the country could spell doom.
Taxi drivers this week held a nationwide demonstration in a bid to force the authorities to grant them the greenlight to increase the fare. In Windhoek, a one-way trip currently costs N$10, if the increment is sanctioned, that amount will increase to N$12.
One of the taxi drivers who took part in the demonstration, albeit refusing to reveal his identity, said the economy is struggling, which subsequently increases pressure for taxi operators on all fronts. He said taxi operators need to navigate increased fuel prices, maintenance costs, paying vehicle instalments while keeping prices affordable for the benefit of commuters.
While the concerns of commuters are overlooked, the demand by taxi drivers will force commuters to fork out extra money to commute from one place to another.
The Patriot spoke to the President of The Namibia Taxi and Transport Union, Werner Januarie who justified the increment proposal.
“The demand is 20%. The commuters are fine with the amount. There are many reasons and many elements that have forced us to request for a 20% increment. Bread is not the same price as it was 5 years ago when the taxi fare increment last took place. It is already an indication that many other things have went up. The maintenance cost for the cars is also very high,” he said.
There is a misunderstanding, Januarie said, adding that the plights of taxi operators are not taken in serious light.
“People don’t understand why taxi prices never go down if petrol prices go down.
That is narrow thinking because petrol increment is not the only factor which we consider when calling for a fare increase, there are many various factors we take into consideration.
When the petrol prices decrease the running cost for taxi drivers do not decrease; such as the engine oil, tyres and many other expenses,” said Januarie.
“Our day to day operations are affected by petrol increase; we take everything in consideration, the maintenance costs and our living costs are considered and based on that we came up with the 20% increase.
The amount we are requesting is justifiable and reasonable.” Januarie further outlined that if they(taxi drivers)were selfish they would demand for a 50% increase because it has been five years ago since the last fee rise has been implemented.
He said their demands have considered the economic situation in the country and the livelihoods of people, hence the 20% increase which is a realistic according to the unionist.
Januarie could not provide the exact number of taxi drivers that signed the petition but stated that the petition had been submitted two years ago but no response had been given to them as of yet from the transport authorities..
At this week’s demonstration, the union submitted inquiry documents seeking answers as to why their petition has not yielded any answers.
Taxi operators accompanied the union bosses to the Ministry of Works and Transports to submit the inquiry to the Acting Permanent Secretary Cedric Limbo.