04 Nov 2013 19:10pm
WINDHOEK, 04 NOV (NAMPA) - The Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) says high traffic fines are its principal concern when it comes to the daily operation of the taxi industry.
NTTU president Werner January made the statement at a public hearing held by the National Assembly (NA)s Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs here on Monday.
The NTTU provisionally called off its country-wide taxi strike which was supposed to have taken place in July this year when the unions leadership was called to meet with the Standing Committee.
The union on 25 July 2013 submitted a petition to the Secretary of the NA, after which the petition was referred to the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on 03 October 2013 for further action.
January informed the Standing Committee that the union's main area of concern is the high traffic fines as most of the other issues are compounded by the traffic fines.
When you look at insufficient taxi ranks, we are being fined because of the non-existence of enough taxi ranks or taxi stops, he said.
The high traffic fines, he said, as stipulated in terms of section 57 (7) and 341 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1977 (Act 51 of 1977) as amended by the Criminal Procedure Act, 2010 (Act 13 of 2010) is the most unjust and unconstitutional law which exploits the unions members and hampers them from making a decent living.
He said the high traffic fines have negatively affected the union members by separating them from their families as some are currently being held in custody countrywide due to the fact that they are unable to pay fines of N.dollars 50 000 or more.
It is clear in terms of the Namibian Constitution that Parliamentarians should enact laws that benefit the citizen, the NTTU president stated.
The union then called on Parliament to enact laws which will allow fines to be affordable to all Namibians, and make sure that the fines are around N.dollars 300, instead of current amounts which could go up to N.dollars 4 000.
Professor Peter Katjavivi who serves on the Standing Committee wanted to know whether the union has guidelines governing taxis in Windhoek.
For example if I own a taxi, do I need to go to a taxi association to register my taxi? And if so, are there rules requiring that I should hire a qualified driver with a drivers licence? Do you have background checks to see if this taxi driver is suitable to drive in Windhoek? he questioned.
Katjavivi said in other parts of the world, taxi drivers are expected to be familiar with the city in which they operate.
He pointed out that he was asking these questions as members of the public come across taxi drivers who misbehave, but then do not know who to turn to have them disciplined.
That is why traffic officers are there. It is a particular challenge of safety and security. The high fines came about as a result of particular developments that have occurred and continue to happen. That is why these rules are being implemented the way they are being implemented, he stated.
Katjavivi said the issue surrounding taxi rank facilities is however a legitimate issue which has to be discussed with other stakeholders such as the City of Windhoek.
I just want you to be aware of the fact that it is a much broader subject that will require all stakeholders to make a contribution so that at the end of the day, we will come out better organised, he said.
Conclusions by the Standing Committee on the way forward will be discussed on Friday.