’Implement Urban Transport Master Plan’

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs has recommended that the City of Windhoek and the Ministry of Works and Transport implement the Sustainable Urban Transport Master Plan to improve traffic safety and help alleviate traffic congestion in urban areas. The massive transport system plan is for Windhoek roads and national roads linking the city centre with Rehoboth, Okahandja and Hosea Kutako International Airport.

The recommendation comes in the wake of public hearings that the standing committee conducted after the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NNTU) submitted a petition to the National Assembly in which they opposed high traffic fines. NNTU, which represents taxi drivers, blamed the inadequate infrastructure for the reason taxi drivers violate traffic rules.

Members of the NNTU staged several strikes since last year to express discontent over traffic fines and reasoned that even if they were paid decent wages, the rate of traffic fines they receive every day would not accord them “social justice”. The taxi drivers union says the inadequate provision of taxi ranks and zones for picking up and loading customers has made the operational environment difficult to obey traffic rules.

But the parliamentary committee is adamant that responsible citizens must adhere at all times to traffic rules and regulations to avoid being issued with fines. Evelyn Nawases-Taeyele, a Member of Parliament and member of the committee said: “Where we continue to break the law, we will eventually face the full wrath of the law.” Highlighting some of the recommendations, she said the committee noted with concern that the roads in Windhoek are overwhelmed and under immense pressure, which requires a comprehensive plan to create and maintain zones for loading and offloading of commuters that make use of buses and taxis.

The committee recommended that taxi owners and their drivers regularly conduct road safety awareness campaigns in order to educate the public on demarcated loading and offloading zones.

The Windhoek Municipality and or all local authorities were also asked, with immediate effect, to take ownership and manage the loading and offloading zones whether for local or long distance journeys.

The committee also noted that the relationship between taxi drivers and taxi owners is not that of an employer and employee relationship, as defined in the Labour Act, 2007 (Act 11 of 2007), with their relationship being similar to that of independent contractors.

“We therefore recommend that the Ministry of Justice, and Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in conjunction with the Social Security Commission request the Government Attorney to bring an ‘Ex ParteIn Re’ application to the Supreme Court, in order to seek an interpretation for the words ’employee’ and ‘independent contractor’ of the Labour Act, 2007 (Act 11 of 2007) and the relevant and related provisions of the Social Security Act, 1994 (Act 34 of 1994),” said Nawases-Taeyele.

Source : New Era