Taxi drivers marching to Parly on Thursday

24 Jul 2013 09:10
WINDHOEK, 24 JUL (NAMPA) – The striking Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) members will march to Parliament on Thursday to hand over a petition to the Secretary to the National Assembly, Jakes Jacobs.
The union’s members started with their countrywide strike on Tuesday to protest the alleged high traffic fines imposed on them by the authorities.
Amongst other things, taxi drivers and owners are not happy with the lack of respect towards them by law-enforcement officers, as well as the issue of insufficient taxi ranks.
Speaking to Nampa on Wednesday at the area in Katutura where they have gathered as part of the strike, NTTU president Werner Januarie said the group will march to Parliament on Thursday under the escort of law-enforcement officers.
He, however, stressed that handing over the petition does not mean the strike will come to an end, but is just one of the negotiation routes.
“This morning, I received a call from parliament that they are waiting for our petition tomorrow, and we are ready to hand it over to the Secretary to the National Assembly.
But the strike will continue, this is an indefinite strike, and we will stay put and we need a detailed response,” stressed Januarie.
With regards to allegations of union members’ brutality against other taxi drivers still operating, the NTTU president said he informed the Khomas Regional Police Commissioner, Festus Shilongo that all those who are harassing others in the streets are not part of the striking group.
“This is our meeting point, and those doing their things at any places other than this, let the police arrest them. We will only be blamed for what is happening here,” he noted.
Meanwhile, one of the strike’s organisers and a taxi driver himself, Joseph Kalimbo, told this agency that if they do not get a satisfactory answer from Parliament, the group will have no choice but to seek legal representation and take the matter to court.
As a group, they have agreed to contribute money needed by any lawyer whom they will appoint.
He also commended other regions for their united efforts.
“Our members in the northern parts of the country as well as those in Walvis Bay have indicated that if there is no solution, they will come and join us here, and unite as one voice,” he added.
He further stated that upon lodging their complaint with the Office of the Ombudsman on Tuesday, they were told to call off the strike while the Ombudsman is working on the matter, an order which the group rejected, saying the striking taxi drivers will stay put until a solution is found.
Kalimbo, however, expressed discontent with the Namibia Bus and Taxi’s Association (Nabta), which according to him, does not carry the interest of taxi operators at heart.
“Most of our members are co-operating, but Nabta is telling our members not to participate in the strike. They are misleading the nation, instead of finding a solution for taxi drivers. They even say the new taxi signs have no benefit for taxi drivers,” he charged.
He also refuted allegations that the strike is politically-motivated in order to bring disunity in view of the country’s upcoming general elections in 2014, adding that they do not represent any political party at all.
According to Kalimbo, some taxi owners have fired drivers who are participating in the strike and recruited new drivers, while some owners have taken the risk of driving their own taxis while they are not in possession of the required public transportation documents.