Public transport system ‘worrisome’: !Nawases-Taeyele

WINDHOEK: The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs says the public transport system in the country is in a ‘worrisome state’.

The committee made this clear in its report following a petition by the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) handed over to the National Assembly in July last year.

The petition was subsequently referred to the committee on 03 October 2013, after which it then held its first meeting with the NTTU on 15 October 2013.

Issues that the NTTU wanted the NA to consider include high traffic fines, and the inadequate provision of taxi ranks and loading zones.

The union also complained about the lack of respect and non-recognition of taxi drivers by Government.

Another concern was the intended acquisition of mini-buses by the City of Windhoek to increase its current fleet of municipal buses, which according to the union will make taxis redundant and increase unemployment.

The conditions of employment and benefits for taxi drivers, such as social security and pensions, also featured highly in their petition, as well as the fact that they feel harassed and unfairly treated by law-enforcement agencies.

While presenting the report in the NA on Tuesday, chairperson of that committee, Evelyn !Nawases-Taeyele said it is a massive task to make a sustainable difference to the increasing chaotic conditions on the roads of the country, especially in Windhoek.

“Most of the stakeholders that we met such as the Motor-Vehicle Accident Fund (MVA), Ministry of Works and Transport, Road Safety Council and others argue that if road users, including taxi drivers, obey the law and rules of the road, there will be no fines and the roads will become safer,” she said.

The Member of Parliament said these stakeholders agreed that laws, rules and regulations, including high traffic fines on traffic control, were not made for a specific segment of the Namibian public.

These laws, !Nawases-Taeyele pointed out, were not made to target the taxi industry alone, but were made with good intensions to save lives and properties of people.

“Thus, they must be respected and adhered to by all and sundry,” she added.

In its report, the committee also touched on the capacity of the City of Windhoek to accommodate the increasing number of vehicles including taxis, saying it is very much limited to the extent that parking facilities are not enough in Windhoek.

Thus, she said, there is an urgent need to implement the master plan for public roads proposed by the Ministry of Works and Transport and the City of Windhoek.

The master plan aims to address the town’s traffic congestion, and make provision for pedestrians and cyclists.

It will also look into the creation of a non-motorised transport network by putting up corridors where local authorities can establish paths for pedestrians and cyclists, and different lanes for taxis, buses and private vehicles.

Meanwhile, the committee indicated that although the taxi industry plays a significant role in the socio-economic development of the country, authorities should guard against a scenario that this industry supersedes the economy of scale.

“There is a need to determine the number of taxi licences issued and the number of taxis currently operating on the roads.

It also requires a comparison with the number of vehicles operating in Windhoek as well as the commuters making use of taxis to bring the situation into perspective,” she noted.

Lastly, the committee urged that the labour issues of taxi drivers and taxi owners receive attention.