TTU embarks on national strike over high traffic fine

WINDHOEK: The feud between taxi operators from the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union ( NTTU) and the authorities started all over again on Tuesday morning after around 300 taxi operators parked their vehicles at an open space in Donkerhoek between Katutura and the Monte Christo Road. The NTTU on several occasions threatened to go on a national strike to air their grievances on the high traffic fines as well as the lack of enough and proper taxi ranks to offload and pick up customers in and around the city.

Last year July the NTTU handed over a petition to the Secretary of the National Assembly (NA) at the Donkerhoek open space for action. But this did not happened at all President of the NTTU Werner Januarie told Nampa on Tuesday morning. ‘We do not have anything concrete or definite from the NA we are still hoping they (the NA) will come back to us’ Januarie told Nampa.

After our consultative meetings last year between us and the Parliament they promised they will get back to us during the second week of last month but nothing came from them Januarie said. Ask if they got any communication from the NA, Januarie said they did received a from the NA explaining to the NTTU about the processes and procedures they (the NA) needs to follow. ‘Our response was that is was fine, but our deadline for a national strike already expired and now we opt to go on strike’ He said.

Januarie further added that the NA could do much better than that to see that the situation is resolved, but they were relaxed. ‘We cannot be held hostage by the NA because they are elected leaders’ He added. Asking about his union’s exclusion by the Minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina to be acknowledged as the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (NABTA) is the only union recognized by the line ministry said Nghimtima made it clear NABTA is the only recognized union.

Januarie said they sent a letter to the transport ministry reflecting certain laws in the constitution about association and affiliation. The NTTU also showed dismay in the one dollar increase in taxi fares as from April 1. ‘I can confidently say the fuel price increased 12 times since the last taxi fare increase during 2012 from N.dollar 8 to N.dollar.’ he told this reporter.

The ten dollar that was approved is nothing he added as many passengers tell the operators to keep the dollar change when the pay with a 10 N.dollar bill. We the NTTU cannot comment on the increase as we do not know with whom the line ministry negotiated the new tariffs that will be increased as of next month.

Speaking to Nabta’s Spokesperson Pendapala Nakathingo, he told Nampa the 10 percent increase came after consultations with the line ministry and other role players in the public transport sector. The NTTU strike will continue until their demands of a reduction in traffic fines are met Januarie told this reporter.

On the lack of adequate taxi ranks Januarie said his union will sit in consultations with the City of Windhoek (CoW) to plan any future taxi ranks so their members can benefit. Some of the NTTU members who spoke to Nampa on condition of anonymity said they do not understand why they must get a fine of N.dollar 1000.00 if they fail to show a certificate of ‘Registration of a Motor Vehicle Plying for Hire’ also known as the ‘Blue Paper’ that cost a mere N.Dollar 40.00, and must be renewed every six months at the CoW.

Even making a U-turn or failing to wear a seatbelt we are fined N.Dollar 1000.00 one lamented, while others said if they fail to pick up a client who stand next to the street another will stop to pick up the client thus raking in the money. Although no police presence was visible at the site, a little squabble broke out after a member of the City Police arrived at the scene too take pictures. This was quickly resolved after Januarie intervened and diffuse the situation.

(edited)WINDHOEK: The feud between taxi operators from the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union ( NTTU) and the authorities flared up again on Tuesday morning, after some 300 taxi operators parked their vehicles in protest at an open space in Donkerhoek near the Monte Christo Road.

The NTTU had on several occasions threatened to call for a national taxi strike to air their grievances on the high traffic fines as well as the shortage of proper taxi ranks where their members can offload and pick up customers in the city.

Last year July, the NTTU handed over a petition to the Secretary of the National Assembly at that same Donkerhoek open space for action, but none of their concerns were addressed, according to NTTU President Werner Januarie.

“We do not have anything concrete or definite from the National Assembly. We are still hoping that the legislators will come back to us. After our consultative meetings last year, the parliamentarians promised that they will get back to us during the second week of last month but nothing has come of it,” Januarie told Nampa on Tuesday.

Asked if they received any communication at all from the National Assembly, Januarie confirmed that they did receive a letter from the legislative House, explaining the processes and procedures which the National Assembly would need to follow to address their concerns.

“Our response to them was that we understand all that, but our deadline for a national strike already expired and now we have opted to go on strike,” he said.

Januarie further added that he believes that the members of the National Assembly could have done much more to ensure that the situation is resolved, but they have just been relaxed.

“We cannot be held hostage by the National Assembly because they are elected leaders,” he added.

Asked about his union’s position regarding their exclusion from being recognised as an official union and bargaining unit by the Ministry of Works and Transport, Januarie said they have sent a letter to the government exerting their right to exist and gain official recognition as guaranteed by the provisions of the Namibian Constitution dealing with the right to association and affiliation.

The rival Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (NABTA) is the only union recognised by the Ministry of Works and Transport.

The NTTU has also expressed its dismay at the lowly N.dollars 1 increase in taxi fare as from April 1.

Taxi fare will increase from the current N.dollars 9 to N.dollars 10 as from that date next month.

“I can confidently say the fuel price increased 12 times since the last taxi fare increase during 2012. The N.dollars 10 that was approved is nothing, as many passengers already the operators to keep the one dollar change when the pay with a N.dollars 10 bill,” he told this reporter.

He said the NTTU cannot comment further on the taxi fare increase, as they do not know with whom the line ministry negotiated the new tariffs that will be increased as of next month.

NABTA Spokesperson, Pendapala Nakathingo he told Nampa in an interview on Tuesday that the 10 percent taxi fare increase came after consultations with the line ministry and other role players in the public transport sector.

Meanwhile, the NTTU strike will continue until their demands of a reduction in traffic fines are met.

Januarie said his union wants to sit in consultations with the City of Windhoek (CoW) to plan any future taxi ranks so that their members can benefit fully from the taxi ranks.

Some of the NTTU members who spoke to Nampa on condition of anonymity said they do not understand why they must get a fine of N.dollars 1000 if they fail to show a certificate of ‘Registration of a Motor Vehicle Plying for Hire’ also known as the ‘Blue Paper’ that cost a mere N.dollar 40.

“Even making a u-turn or failing to wear a seatbelt, we are fined N.dollars 1000,” one NTTU lamented.

Although no police presence was visible at the site, a little squabble broke out after a member of the City Police arrived at the scene to take pictures.

This was quickly resolved after Januarie intervened and diffused the situation.

SOURCE: NAMPA