09 May 2017 19:00pm
KEETMANSHOOP, 09 MAY (NAMPA) Though only a handful of Keetmanshoop residents turned up for the Namibian Time Bill public hearing on Tuesday, all of them argued for the return of one standard time throughout the year.
The residents in favour of the repeal of the current winter and summer time stated their reasons before the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security.
They want the standard two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2).
The hearings are conducted by two groups throughout the country and started in Lüderitz and Khorixas on Monday. The exercise ends on 24 May.
Namibia in 1994 implemented the current time system of turning the clock one hour back during winter to accommodate children who have to walk long distances, especially in rural and informal settlements, in the dark to school.
Many Namibians have since expressed dissatisfaction with the reduced operation hours and time disparity between Namibia and other African countries with which it trades, particularly South Africa.
Namibia is the only country in Africa that switches to wintertime. The Zambezi Region, however, does not comply with the change.
As a result of these concerns, Cabinet authorised the Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration in October 2015 to conduct consultations on the Namibian Time Act, committee Vice-Chairperson Agnes Kafula briefed the meeting.
Consultations with target groups and a subsequent debate in Parliament yielded little results. The Bill was in February referred to the committee for wider public input.
Senior law enforcement officers, who were part of the around 20 participants at the hearing in Keetmanshoop, said crime increase during winter months.
There is a spike in rape and robberies incidences as people navigate to their homes in the dark after work, Namibian Police //Kharas Regional Commander, Commissioner Rudolf Isaak and Deputy Commissioner David Indongo noted.
Isaak said the time was changed 20-odd years ago when there was no electricity in the streets and at some schools, but this has since changed.
One resident concurred that though the time change is beneficial to learners, it increases safety risks of those employed.
Women are robbed of that loaf of bread they take home to their children after work, he said.
A female participant said there was little time left in winter after work for errands.
Lets go back to the old time, they all suggested.
Meanwhile, participants blamed the low turnout at the meeting on regional government authorities.
All public hearings in Keetmanshoop so far have been poorly attended, because the councillors, Governors Office and //Kharas Regional Council fail to communicate with residents, the committee was told.
Committee Clerk, Willem Isaak said the public still has time until 06 June to submit their written views.