Bus operators in dispute over Oshakati terminal

13 Oct 2017 12:30pm
By Mathias Nanghanda
OSHAKATI, 13 OCT (NAMPA) - Long distance bus drivers operating from the Oshakati Open Market are accusing the town council of turning a blind eye to the unruly loading of passengers in unauthorised zones.
Speaking on behalf of the disgruntled drivers, Dave Hashili told Nampa in a telephonic interview earlier this week there are drivers who refuse to operate from the new open market terminal.
They have returned to the old loading zones at Okatana Service Station and Shali Garage Service Station.
“The town council told us all bus operators have to use the new terminal, but we are surprised to see certain individuals using the Okatana and Shali service stations,” said Hashili, who heads the open market terminal committee.
He said at the new open market terminal, passengers board the buses in an orderly manner, while at the service stations people’s bags are still grabbed to force them to get into certain minibuses.
At the new terminal, a more orderly system is used whereby one minibus is filled before it departs and the next in the queue starts taking passengers.
“They are trying to avoid this system. We will one day take the law into our own hands to prevent the use of the Okatana and Shali service stations if the town council does not take action,” a group of open market drivers told this agency on Monday.
Those operating outside the new terminal however accused the committee of favouring drivers with bigger buses in the system.
“Drivers of small buses, like the Quantums, are discriminated against and the drivers of bigger buses, like the Ivecos, are always dominating the queue at the open market,” a driver, who asked not to be named, said.
He said drivers who refuse to respect the open market terminal are mostly those who see the terminal committee as corrupt.
Hashili however denied these accusations, saying his committee strictly follows the first come, first served rule irrespective of the size of the bus, and space in the queue is not booked beforehand.
Approached for comment on Wednesday, Oshakati Town Council Chief Executive Officer Werner Iita said they are aware of the situation.
“They are operating illegally. We only have one bus terminal which is the open market and we will take action,” he said.
Iita said the drivers refusing to adhere to the committee’s rules were also problematic before in that they did not want to fall under association like the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association.
“We are planning to hold a stakeholders’ meeting to decide on what action to take against these operators,” he said.