The Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (NABTA) has sunk to lowest levels after the a rival association entered the fray earlier this year, leaving the former trusted body to now dig deep as it is fighting for credibility or at tarnished name.
At its recent ‘congress’ which elected new leaders, only three regions from a total of eight turned out to vote, while there was also no presence of a Government leaders who customary are regarded to be the ‘endorsers’ of such meetings.
The other eight who did not turn up seem to have already pledged their allegiance to the new kids on the block and that left NABTA bitter.
At the moment, the Namibia Public Passenger Transport Association (NPPTA) has speedily overtake NABTA and made progress by setting up a fully functional office, members across the country and a structure, while NABTA does not even have a telephone in their office.
However, both claim to be legitimate entities, but the taxi owners and long distance drivers are still seeking answers on who is actually the authentic representative.
Initially, NPPTA was formed to rival or to ultimately dismantle NABTA which in their view was ineffective and was run in one dimension by former President, Magnus Nangombe and his team.
Historically, since its inception in 2005, NABTA has been riddled by infighting and financial mismanagement, the two core aspects that led to its slow demise, now leaving it with virtually no power to even pay for legal fees.
The NPPTA claim that the Nangombe’s leadership focused on self-enrichment and they felt that the needs of the taxi and long distance drivers, was not addressed adequately.
NPPTA argues that they are the alternative choice and to date have secured loading terminals in virtually all the major towns across the country.
Their strategy is twofold: They are registered as a Section 21 company and want to establish a business arm in the near future, secondly to solidify the ‘broken’ base of the taxi and long distance drivers.
Despite the attempts by NPPTA to take full charge, NABTA elected a new president in Vespa Muunda has set up an advisory committee after he took over from Nangombe who lost out.
Muunda was the former Secretary-General and won the elections by 41 votes, compared to only nine obtained by Nangombe, but ironically, this supposedly election was not endorsed by the line ministry.
However, Muunda explained that the advisory committee will address issues such as how best collection of membership fees and loading terminal fees and the availability of more loading zones could be addressed.
They also want to improve the overall administration of the association which at various intervals was rocked with financial mismanagement with at least over N$7 million still unaccounted for to date.
But the stumbling block is that NPPTA has thrown out their plan and so far have convinced several members that are backing them, but they have been accused of running their organisation on ‘mafia principles.’
“They are in this whole thing just for money. They are harassing people to join their organisation and at the same time are dirtifying NABTA’s name and discouraging members to be part of us,” Muunda told The Villager in an interview.
Muunda also confirmed that an investigation is currently at an advance stage to bring to book what he called ‘criminal individuals’ who embezzled the funds of NABTA prior to the formation of NPPTA.
The chief principal culprit in this case is the former office administrator Uapingena Karuaera, who is accused of embezzling funds amounting to at least N$4 million.
Earlier, Muunda accused Karuera that he defected NABTA to form his own organisation and as a result left NABTA penniless.
A poor accounting system and the former office administrator having signing powers, despite an appointed treasurer, is said to have contributed the disappearance of the money.
Karuaera and NABTA’s ex vice-president Innocent Simasiku, had joint signatory rights to the association’s account, but at times no formal records were kept of the loading fees from different terminals.
However, Karuaera told The Villager that all what his former bosses are up to is to safe face as NABTA is virtually ‘dead and buried.’
“The ones who are currently in these positions are fighting to safe the credibility of an association that will never get back to its feet. They have lots touch and their base is split into two. Nabta has been de-registered by the Labour Commissioner and I dont understand why are fighting a losing battle,” he says.
Muunda dismissed the fact that NABTA has been de-registred and claims that Karuaera and his ‘bunch of croocks’ went to de-register it, but they have not received such a letter from the Labour Commissioner.
However, The Villager established that a letter of de-registration was sent to Nangombe, to which he responded receipt thereof.
“They are misleading the public through their bogus organisation and they are intimidating NABTA members to join them. Nabta has never been dissolved and never renamed as NPPTA, as per false information spread by these people,” he told journalists at an earlier press conference, shortly after NPPTA was formed.
Infighting, recklessness and mistrust
Karuaera slammed NABTA saying since he joined them in 2005, the association was run ‘recklessly’.
“These men took decisions without consulting each other, used the funds of the association the way they saw fit and up to date, never submitted any financial report to the Labour Commissioner. Years went by without formal elections and the fact that the president defied the constitution and even make changes to it without following procedures tell you a lot,” he says.
Karuaera says NABTA could have been a florishing association if the people running it had principles and service oriented.
“They were power hungry and always wanted to put each other in positions so that they can benefit from the system. They broke the most basic rules of the association and when ones peaks out, you are sidelined. They actually never wanted me there and they fired me in the end,” he said.
Karuaera denied that he embezzled N$4 million from the association, saying: “NABTA has never in its history made so much money.”
The Villager has seen documents that indicate that in the past eight years, NABTA has collected a total of N$1,272 600 in membership fees alone.
It is supposed to collect a total of N$181 800 membership fees per annjum, while per month, it is supposed to get N$15 150 with each member required to pay N$150 per month.
Now, NABTA claims that an amount of N$2,809 220 for trip log sheet was discovered at Nedbank and together with the N$1,272 600, totalling N$4 081 820 was never accounted for and a criminal case is pending.
That money they claim Karuaera took, but has since not been recovered as he is now with NPPTA which claims to have at least 800 members as long-distance drivers on their books.
Earlier, NABTA engaged its lawyer Sisa Namandje to deal with the issue, and he has since written to Karuaera to instruct him to cease spreading false information.
Namandje’s letter includes a demand by that NABTA should stop collecting loading fees at Windhoek’s Rhino Park, Katima Mulilo, Mariental, Rehoboth and Rundu.
It states NPPTA should also return all documents belonging to NABTA and that they must account for the funds they took or return them immediately.
But that has not happened.