By Frederick Philander WINDHOEK Collective bargaining is essential if the growing car accident tow-in business in the country is to survive and flourish. This is the view of a local lawyer, Rooies Mostert, representing four of 35 formally registered tow-in companies countrywide. The owners of the four biggest operative companies on Wednesday had in-depth legal consultations to establish a formal association that will represent their rights as sustainable business ventures. “Presently the Namibian government pays millions of dollars because of road accidents in overall costs of which tow-in businesses only receive a small fraction in compensation for service delivery. This is because individual tow-in companies have thus far operated as individuals. A forum or an association that will look after their rights and interests at a national level will be the answer to their present problems in the sector,” said Mostert. The meeting, in which various problems in the industry were highlighted, took place on Wednesday in the capital. “Taking into account that the average vehicle accident rate is 13 per day (Windhoek), surely there is enough room for everyone in the business to get a piece of the cake. However, this should be done in an orderly fashion by a central body that will determine fees and even keep out pirate tow-in companies becoming a real threat to the legally registered ones. The companies countrywide provide jobs for about 300 people already,” said Mostert at the meeting. “There are undoubtedly many problems and conflicts plaguing the sector on basically every front and level. Among those problems pertinently causing problems for us to perform our duties properly are insurance companies and even the traffic department,” said David Martin, the owner of Town Tow-in Service. In his view, there exist about 10 insurance companies that prefer the lowest quotes in the removal of cars or car wrecks from accident scenes, making gross profits through their preferential choices. A tow-in membership organization will be formally announced next Tuesday. “The constitution of this forum is presently being finalized, based on a proposed law collectively drawn up by the companies and submitted to the Roads Authority. It requested us to submit such a proposal, which we did,” Mostert said on behalf of the tow-in companies, operating nationally and even doing cross-border business in Botswana and South Africa. According to Jenville Dryden, co-owner of Northern Breakdown Services, tow-in companies perform a very unappreciated service to the public at great costs and sacrifices. “We are known among the public and law enforcement agencies as ‘vultures’, but all we do is clear accident wrecks for the smooth running of the heavy traffic on our city roads,” said the owner of Destiny Tow-in Services, Henkie Izaks. In the view of Jan Kritzinger of the company Tow-in Specialist, the traffic company, Natis, makes things very difficult for tow-in companies to properly do their job. “In trying to trace the whereabouts of the legal owners of cars that have been involved in accidents we don’t have any other way of tracing them but through Natis, who refuses to provide us with such information. We have to pay high fees to obtain such information from Natis,” said company owner Kritzinger.
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