High Traffic Fines Fuel Bribes

FEARS that the high traffic fines would lead to law enforcement agents receiving bribes from motorists have been confirmed by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitution and Legal Affairs in its response to a petition by a taxi drivers’ union.

The Namibian Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) complained against high traffic fines, insufficient taxi ranks and the need for recognition of drivers by the government.

NTTU handed over a petition to parliament last year, which called on the lawmakers to intervene.

The committee, chaired by Eveline !Nawases-Taeyele, presented its report compiled from interviews conducted with 13 institutions in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

Some of the institutions interviewed by the committee are the Namibia National Students’ Organisation (Nanso), Windhoek municipality and the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development.

The report said the transport ministry, which rejected the demands for reducing the traffic fines, pointed out that although motorists are paying bribes to law enforcement agents, the fines are a deterrent. While the transport ministry conceded that there were loopholes which allowed corruption, it argued that the fines are high because motorists continuously break traffic laws.

The transport ministry, the report added, acknowledged that there are inadequate taxi ranks in the city. “But the few that are available are not being used. They [ministry] maintain that road accidents increase because taxi operators stop [to pick and drop passengers] at places where they are not supposed to,” the report said.

Nanso complained about lack of safety and the rampant muggings some of its members suffered at the hands of some taxi drivers.

“Some students have been robbed of their laptops while travelling in taxis, in connivance with some taxi operators, especially after evening classes. Sometimes, their wallets are snatched from them while in taxis,” said the report.

The student body expressed dissatisfaction with taxi fares, which they deem as too high and should be reduced.

“They also complained about the general disregard of traffic rules by the taxi operators. They, therefore, do not support the request by the NTTU to have traffic fines reduced for taxi operators,” the parliamentary report said about the ministry’s stance.

Thereport further said the National Road Safety Council supported the high traffic fines saying they are meant to discourage motorists from flouting traffic rules.

The committee thus rejected proposals to reduce fines saying they were introduced to deter all road users from engaging in unsafe behaviour on the road.

The committee agreed that fines were not introduced to target taxi drivers but “they are made with good intensions to save lives”.

The committee, however, agreed that the public transport system in Windhoek is in a worrisome state and that the roads will be safer if rules are obeyed by all the users.

A control mechanism on the number of licenses and controlling operators was also proposed by committee.

The committee also recommended that the labour issue of taxi drivers receive attention, adding that the municipality of Windhoek should begin with the implementation of the transport master plan.

Source : The Namibian