Taxi Drivers to Strike Again

The Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) president, Werner Januarie, says the NTTU will go ahead with its planned nationwide strike should Parliament fail to pass legislation to reduce traffic fines by June 16.

Briefing the media yesterday, Januarie said the planned strike would go ahead even in the face of “intimidation” by the Namibian police.

According to him, members of his union have received constant threats from high-ranking police officials condemning the planned strike. He said the police said the strike would cause havoc in the country.

“It should be clear that no amount of threats or intimidation will deter us from pursuing a just cause, the best quality of life, social and civic justice as well as just and sustainable living including … citizens’ rights,” he said. Januarie accused the police of sending threatening messages to its members in various regions of the country.

“Prominent police officers warned me that if I don’t stop with what I’m busy with I will pay a hefty price since they know where I live and which school my kids attend – what’s the meaning of that?” he asked.

Januarie said taxi drivers were sick and tired of being “harassed” by the Namibian police.

“Early last month we wrote a letter to the city council (Windhoek) complaining about the ill-treatment we receive but we have not received a response from them,” he added.

“We are tired of the hefty fines we receive for traffic offences,” he said.

Januarie blamed a lack of infrastructure such as taxi offloading bays and taxi ranks as the reason why taxi drivers violate traffic rules. Taxi drivers have staged several strikes since last year to express dissatisfaction over traffic fines.

Approached for comment yesterday, Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Theo Ben Gurirab, said he could not comment on the matter since it had not reached his office yet and had not been brought to his attention.

“I haven’t received anything from the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs which is responsible for that,” he said.

He referred all questions to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs chaired by Evelyn !Nawases-Tayele.

The standing committee’s chairperson !Nawases-Tayele was unavailable for comment as her phone was on voicemail.

In the letter addressed to Januarie by the Namibian Police Inspector General, Sebastian Ndeitunga, serious concern is raised about the unlawful actions taken by NTTU members during their last demonstration.

The letter reads: “I would like to inform you that my office was astonished to learn that you were not cooperative during your march through the streets.

“You have caused havoc as some taxis blocked the traffic when taxi drivers disembarked from their vehicles and locked the doors of their vehicles, leaving them in the middle of the road at the intersection of Mandume Ndemufayo Avenue and Frans Oupa Indongo Street.” The letter went on to say that it was on that basis that the Namibian police remained concerned about the unlawful action of taxi drivers.

According to NBC news on Tuesday, City Police Chief Abraham Kanime warned NTTU leaders making threats against the state and its citizens, saying it was an offence on its own that needed to be taken seriously.

Kanime said any attempt by the NTTU to disturb law and order would be met by law enforcement officers in a manner that would ensure that the situation did not get out of hand.

Kanime was responding to remarks made by the NTTU president in which the taxi union recently announced the staging of a non-peaceful and uncontrollable strike should Parliament fail to reduce traffic fines by June 16.

Source : New Era