Namibia Transport and Taxi Union strike commences in capital

WINDHOEK: About 100 members of the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) convened at Donkerhoek in the Katutura residential area on Monday morning for the start of their three-day strike.

Issues they want the government to address include high traffic fines, and the alleged inadequate provision of taxi ranks as well as loading zones.

Addressing the taxi drivers, NTTU president Werner Januarie said members of his organisation are not willing to ‘sell’ their rights, saying Article 21 of the Namibian Constitution states that all people shall have the right to assemble peacefully without arms.

He, however, alleged that the turnout was lower than expected as the union members were not happy with alleged intimidation by the police.

“What the police are currently doing is unlawful. They blocked off the road to our meeting place, and they have their firearms visible, and are even wearing bulletproof vests. This is scaring our members, and they do not want to join the strike,” Januarie claimed.

The union had initially indicated that they planned to hold a violent strike on 16 June, but thereafter retracted their statement, and agreed to hold a peaceful strike.

The City of Windhoek’s Corporate Communications’ Officer Joshua Amukugo last week said during a media briefing that the demonstration should be conducted strictly as per the relevant and set conditions of public gatherings issued by the Namibian Police in terms of Section 3 (1) of the Public Gatherings’ Proclamation, AG 23 of 1989.

“Any non-compliance with such conditions by the NTTU or its members or participants shall render this access and prior permission revoked and nullified,” he stressed.

Amukugo said no public nuisance of excessive noise disruption shall be permitted on open spaces, and due respect shall be accorded to persons residing and visiting the residences along the corner of Hans Dietrich-Genscher Street and Claudius Kandovazu Street in Donkerhoek during the three days of the demonstration.

“Only 500 sedan or minibuses shall be permitted entry and parking onto open space of these locations. All the open spaces which are designated for the assembly shall be conspicuously demarcated by the municipal staff and agents,” he stated.

Januarie said on Monday that they have been instructed to strike from 08h00 until 17h00, and only 10 to 20 cars are allowed to drive into the central business district (CBD) to wait for a response from Government on their complaints.

He said he is not happy with the time allocated to them for the strike.

“Why have a strike from 08h00 to 17h00? By 08h00, everyone would have already been taken to work by taxi drivers and at 17h00, they will still be expected to start taking those same people back to their houses, and that will not serve the purpose of their strike.

And we were told only 500 drivers should come to the gathering, but I don’t think only 500 drivers receive tickets,” he said.

The NTTU president further stated that they will continue gathering at their meeting place in Donkerhoek until Wednesday while awaiting a response from the parliamentarians on whether Government will reduce the traffic fines.

“We are not forcing the lawmakers to give us a ‘yes’ answer. All we want to know is where we stand, and if we are not happy with the response we get, then we can approach the right people to advise us about going to court,” Januarie stated.

He added that there are people who are ready and willing to sponsor their case if they indeed go to court.

“We don’t want to take our Government to court, but we just want to do the right thing for everyone if we are not satisfied with the response we receive on Wednesday,” he continued.