Govt Refuses to Yield to Taxi Demands

WORKS ministry permanent secretary Peter Mwatile says the striking taxi drivers can forget about a reduction in traffic fines.

Some taxi drivers embarked on a strike on Tuesday, demanding that government should reduce traffic fines, and that the works ministry should recognise their union – the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU).

Responding to these demands, Mwatile told The Namibian yesterday that taxis were demanding something government cannot grant them and that they should simply adhere to the traffic rules like everyone else and take responsibility for breaking those rules.

“We cannot support them in breaking the law and endangering the lives of other people in the process,” he said adding: “If they are legally registered with the Labour Commissioner, why should they care whether our ministry recognises them or not?”

Although some drivers parked their vehicles, those who did not stay on told The Namibian that they support the strike, but they had money to make.

The NTTU has threatened to “shake things up” if their demand of traffic fine reduction is not granted. They also threatened to march across the city today and tomorrow.

With the Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan on official visit today, and the independence celebrations tomorrow, the NTTU said this is a good time to attract the authorities’ attention.

NTTU’s president Werner January informed Police Inspector General Sebastian Ndeitunga and the Windhoek Municipality CEO, Niilo Taapopi, of the intention to march from Claudius Kandovazu in Katutura to Olympia from 09h00 today and tomorrow.

January also handed a petition of their demands to Parliament on Tuesday, demanding a reduction in traffic fines.

Ndeitunga told The Namibian yesterday that it is not aisable for the union to strike while independence celebrations are ongoing and with the Nigerian delegation in the country.

“There will be tight security during the state visit and it is for their own safety that we aise them not to march during this period,” he said.

But the union’s chief organiser, Joseph Kalimbo, said they were prepared to be arrested if necessary.

“Who cares about the Nigerian delegation when we are being colonised in our own country 24 years after independence? We will continue with our march regardless,” he said.

Yesterday, dozens of taxi drivers collectively dumped their voters’ registration cards in a box, saying they will not to vote for a government that fails to recognise their struggle.

The organisation, which claims to have over 15 000 members nationwide, says it was going to hand over the box of cards to the Electoral Commission of Namibia today.

In December, President Hifikepunye Pohamba said that citizens who threatened to boycott the elections should stay at home.

“Why threaten not to vote even if you have a dispute. If you don’t want to go and vote, stay at home,” the President had said.

Kalimbo said there will be unspecified consequences for taxi drivers who refuse to join the strike.

“Those who refuse to join us in this fight have betrayed us. This is a dilemma that affects all of us (taxi drivers), and we need to put on a united front. We are still calling on all those who are on the road to join us or else we will be forced to take unspecified action,” threatened Kalimbo.

Source : The Namibian