By Okeri Ngutjinazo
The Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) is fighting for a 20% increase in taxi fares across the board for both minibuses and sedans.
This was announced last week during a press conference held by NTTU president Werner Januarie, who claims his union has around 6 000 members countrywide.
He pointed out the challenges taxi drivers face, including high fines for traffic offences, not enough taxi stops which forces drivers to stop anywhere to pick up passengers, and the slow issuance of taxi permits.
The unionist thus pleaded with the authorities to let them pay the huge fines in instalments instead. “Allow us to pay traffic fines in instalments as they are too high and unaffordable to the poor and marginalised drivers,” he urged.
This leads to many drivers defaulting, he added. Januarie said the NTTU plans a demonstration on 20 February when members will congregate in front of the City Police headquarters in the Northern Industrial area to air their grievances.
Last year, police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga and Windhoek City Police chief Abraham Kanime ordered that if taxi drivers continuously get fined for breaking traffic regulations, their driving licences should be suspended.
Januarie said suspending taxi drivers’ licences is a violation of the law and the country’s Constitution.
Because of the nature of the public transport industry, taxi drivers are always clashing with the traffic police.
The rapid results strategy of the Ministry of Works and Transport, which was meant to be implemented a year ago to train taxi drivers to improve their conduct at work, has not been implemented yet.
The Namibian spoke to Shapumba Ndinashino, a taxi driver and member of the NTTU, who said some of the challenges they encounter is there not being enough infrastructure for them to stop for passengers, which forces them to stop in the middle of the road.
“Sometimes, if we see a customer next to the road, we are forced to stop for him/her, otherwise the next taxi will pick them up,” he said, adding that competition in the industry was fierce.
Ndinashino noted that taxi drivers only receive 30% commission on the money they cash in, and they therefore have to get as many customers as possible to earn enough money.
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