Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU)has threatened to take government to court for allegedly ignoring the complaints of taxi operators regarding the inadequate number of taxi ranks within the capital.
President of NTTU, Werner Januarie told The Patriot this week that complaints from taxi drivers over the limited number of taxi ranks continue to be ignored, adding that the situation leaves taxi drivers with no choice but to stop at undesignated spots.
The complaints border on taxi drivers not being regarded as employees and high taxi fines, which according to Januarie, cannot be justified because of the inadequate services provided by government which makes it difficult for taxis to comply with traffic and municipal laws.
“I can reveal to you that we are working on a way to finally get a solution for this situation. We are in talks with South African sponsors that are willing to assist us to take this matter to the courts. We believe that it is the only way to resolve the matter.
We had several demonstrations which have not been responded to, that is why the court is the only option left. The court has to stop them[law enforcers] from issuing fines until all the issues are resolved,” he said.
“Taxi ranks are one of the biggest problems faced by our drivers because traffic tickets are being issued to our members for stopping at undesignated places. The question is where are the designated taxi ranks or zones? There is none whatsoever, yet we are being fined while there is a lack of taxi ranks and taxi facilities.
We are actually being blamed for something that is out of our control. City Police is supposed to provide us with the facilities,” he said.
“We have been trying to talk to these people[municipal officials] but our cries fall on deaf ears. There were several consultative meetings but till now there is no progress.
We have been informed that the consultants have been involved to advice government and that process has been completed. The only conclusion we can draw is that the politicians are also involved in the taxi industry.
Politicians are now enjoying under the current chaos that is prevailing, they prefer the industry to be unregulated,” he claimed.
Januarie pleaded to the public that etiquette amongst taxi operators is a key aspect and urged operators to prioritise good customer service to commuters.
“We have been advocating for training of taxi drivers but it is an issue that has been rejected.
The Automobile Association is now offering training to certain taxi drivers, this was our idea as a union which we gave but it was rejected, now it is given to a select group only,” he bemoaned.
A taxi driver who spoke to this publication, Sakaria Andreas, is also of the opinion that the provision of taxi ranks is a limitation to them.
“We have challenges with taxi ranks not being availed to us. Especially because the tickets we get are as a result of loading customers on the road and this applies to areas in Katutura, Oshitenda and Industrial areas. We have no option because people want to go to those areas either to school or to work,” he lamented.
Andreas said “it is only now that Wernhil is providing more options but usually we just have to load them wherever they want.”
“We do not have enough taxi ranks and most areas affected do not have space to allocate taxi ranks but there are bus stops. I therefore recommend that bus stops also incorporate taxis because taxis are more than buses.
This will be better because we have already been advocating for this. So far what we are experiencing as taxi drivers is that we cannot keep up with the traffic fines,” Andreas said..
But despite the cries of the taxi operators for more designated taxi loading and off-loading zones, City Police Chief Inspector Abraham Kanime remains resolute.
He said there would be fines payable for people who stop taxis at random places.
City Police office is in the process of educating the public but they should be warned that the law enforcement will also hold them accountable if they stop taxis at undesignated zones, Kanime warned.